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" The policy of your Government will bring you to Jena," said 
M. de Moustier to Herr von BiBmarck during the Crimean War. 
" Why not to Waterloo ? '* was the prompt and prophetic reply. 

Wo Kraft und Muth in deutseher Seele flammen. 

















FinA publMed in Stw, 1887. 
Squinted in Bohn'* Standard Library, 1897. 1906, 1998. 

^ * * ., » • • 

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ * V 



WHEN it was decided to publish a new and cheaper 
edition of Mr. G^eorge Hooper's "Sedan," the 
question arose whether anything should be added to it. 
My father had intended, should a new edition be called 
for, to revise and correct the work, and to famish it with 
an index. After due consideration it has been decided to 
make no additions to the book, except the index, which 
has been carefully compiled. A few errors that had crept 
into the text of the original edition have been corrected ; 
but in other respects the volume remains as it was left 
by its author. 

Wynnabd Hoopeb. 

South Kensington, 
October, 1897. 



THE War of 1870-71 was opened by a campaign of 
thirty days, complete in itself, and the author must 
plead the dramatic unity of the great event as a reason foi 
treating it in a separate form. Although the foundation 
of those ulterior successes which enabled the Germans to 
proclaim the King of Prussia Emperor in Germany, and to 
do so in the palace of Louis XIY., yet, from an historical 
point of view, the astonishing series of battles and marches 
which ended in the Investment of Metz, and the Capitula- 
tion of Sedan may be regarded as standing apart, because 
they carried with them the Downfall of the Second Empire. 
The Campaign of Sedan, in this respect, is the supplement 
of the Campaign of Waterloo ; but, of course, there is no 
resemblance between Napoleon III. and Napoleon L, nor 
in the political and military conditions and results of the 
two catastrophes. 

The materials at the disposal of any author who ventures 
to narrate the campaign are abundant and yet incomplete. 
The History of the War prepared by the Cierman StafE is 
minute even to weariness, but it must always stand as the 
authentic foundation of every narrative. Unreadable to 
the general public, it is invaluable to the soldier-student, 
and to all who wish to know what the German Army is 
like, and how it wages war. It need scarcely be said that 
the StafE narrative is the basis of this book, which is an 


endeavour to present its essence in a succinct and readable 
form. Unhappily, the French accounts are wanting in pre- 
cision, so that it is difficult to comprehend how thej fought 
their battles, and impossible to ascertain accurately what 
was their numerical strength at any moment. The de- 
ficiency is serious, because it mars the completeness of the 
story, and frustrates every attempt to do them full justice. 
For, if the Army, as an Army, was wasted by incapable 
commanders, the soldiers fought well and did nothing to 
derogate from their old renown. They had to encounter 
better commanders, more numerous and better soldiers, 
and they were beaten, but they were not disgraced. The 
whole lesson of the war is lost, if the fact is ignored that 
the German Army, from top to bottom, was superior in 
every way to that of Napoleon III., as well as more 
numerous ; and that what made it superior was the spirit 
of Duty, using the word in its highest sense, which ani- 
mated the host, from the King, who was its shining ex- 
emplar, to the private who was proud to rival his King. 

The contrast, which this war exhibited, between the 
French and German methods of making and using an 
Army is so violent, that it becomes pamful, and imparts 
an air of one-sidedness to the narrative. But the facts 
must be stated, although the bare statement suggests par- 
tiality in the narrator. I have, nevertheless, tried to be 
impartial, and in doing my best, I have found it impossible 
to read the abounding evidence of Imperial neglect, rash- 
ness and indecision, without feeling pity for the soldiers 
and the nation which had to bear the penalties. The 
Fr^ch Army has been remodelled and increased enorm- 
ously ; the secular quarrel between Germany and France 
is still open ; and some day it may be seen whether the 
Bepublicans, out of the same materials, have been able to 
create an Army such as the Imperialists failed to produce. 

• •• 


Whether they have succeeded or not, it may be fervently 
hoped that the deep impression which the examples of 
thoroughness, revealed by the wars of 1866 and 1870, made 
on our own country will never be effaced ; and that the 
public will insist that our small Army, in every part, shall 
be as good as that which crossed the French frontier in 
1870, and triumphed in the Campaign of Sedan. 

Kensington, April 6th, 1887. 




Chapter I. 


French Demands for the Rhine— Lnxemburg — An Interlude 
of Peace— The Salzburg Interview — The Emperor seeks Allies 
— The HohenzoUem Candidature— The French Government 
and the Chamber 17 

Chapter II. 


German Mobilization — French Mobilization^War Methods 
Contrasted 66 

Chapter III. 


The Combat at Saarbriick — Preparing to go Forward — 
Positions on August 4 — The Moral and Political Forces . . 72 

Chapter IV. 

INVASION IN earnest. 

The Combat on the Lauter— French Position on the Saar— 
German Position on the Saar 64 

Chapter V. 


1. Woerth— The Battle Begins— Attack on Woerth— 
Attack on the French Right— Attack on Elsasshausen— 



MacMahon Orders a Retreat — The Close of the Battle. 2. 
Spicheren— The Germans Begin the Fight-The Red Hill 
Stormed— Progress of the Action— -Frossard Retires ... 96 

Ghafteb VI. 


The Emperor Resigns his Command — The German Advance 
— The German Cavalry at Work — The Germans March on 
the Moselle 131 

Chapteb VII. 


The French Propose to Move — The Battle of Colombey- 
Nonilly— Von Golz Dashes In^The End of the Battle—The 
French Retreat — The Germans Cross the Moselle— The 
Cavalry Beyond the Moselle — Orders for the Flank March — 
The Emperor Quits the Army 145 

Chapteb VIII. 


Vionville-Mars la Tour— The Vionville Battlefield— The 
French are Surprised — The Third Corps Strikes In — Arrival 
of Bazaine^Bredow's Brilliant Charge — The Fight becomes 
Stationary — Arrival of the Tenth Corps — The Great Cavalry 
Combat— End of the Battle 167 

Chapter IX. 


Marshal Bazaine— The Battlefield of Gravelotte— The 
German Plans — The Battle of Gravelotte — Prince Frederick 
Charles at the Front — Steinmetz Attacks the French Left — 
Operations by the German Left Wing— General Frossard 
Repels a Fresh Attack— The Last Fights near St. Hubert — 
The Prussian Guard on the Centre and Left— The Capture 
ofSt. Privat 188 



Chapter X. 


The King Marches Westward — The Cavalry Operations — 
The Emperor at Chalons and Reims — MacMahon retires to 
Heims — ^The Chalons Army Directed on the Mease .... 228 

Chapter XI. 


The Cavalry Discover the Enemy — ^Movements of the 
French— The Marshal Resolves, Hesitates, and Yields — 
Movements of the Germans — Effects of MacMahon's Connter- 
orders — German and French Operations on the 29th — The 
Comhat at Nonart — The State of Affairs at Simdown — The 
Battle of Beaumont — The Surprise of the Fifth Corps — The 
Flight to Mouzon 244 

Chapter XII. 


The Battle of Noisseville •••276 

Chapter XIII. 


German Decision — Confusion in the French Camp— The 
Movements of the Germans — ^The Battlefield of Sedan — The 
Battle of Sedan — MacMahon's Wound and its Consequences 
— Progress of the Battle on the Givonne— The March on St, 
Menges — The Eleventh and Fifth Corps Engage — The Con- 
dition of the French Army — The French Cavalry Charge — 
General de Wimpffen's Counter stroke — The Emperor and 
his Generals— King William and his Warriors — How the 
Generals Rated Each Other — The Generals Meet at Don- 
chery— Napoleon III. Surrenders — The French Generals 
Submit— The End 286 


I. The German Field Armies — II. The French Army — 
III. The Protocol of Capitulation— IV. A List of the Prin- 
cipal Works Consulted for the Campaign of Sedan .... 339 

Index ••••••• 359 


'■ Map and Plans. 

L Battle of Wobbth. 

II. Battle of Spicheren. 

III. Battle of Colombey-Nouilly. 

IV. Battle of Vionville-Mars la Toub. 
V. Battle of Gravelottb. 

VI. Battle of Sedan. 
VII. General Map. 



IN Jtdy, 1870, fifty-five years after the Allied Armies, 
who had marched from the decisive field of Waterloo, 
entered Paris, a young diplomatist. Baron Wimpfen, 
started from the French capital, for Berlin. He was 
the bearer of a Declaration of War, from the Emperor 
Napoleon III., to William I., King of Prussia ; and the 
fatal message was delivered to the French Charg^ d'Affiures, 
M. le Sourd, and by him to the Prussian Government on 
the 19th of July. Thus, once again, a Napoleon, at the 
head of a French Empire, was destined to try his strength 
against the principal German Power beyond the Bhine. 

Tet, under what different conditions! The Emperor 
was not now the Napoleon who surrounded the Austrians 
at Ulm, broke down the combined forces of Austria and 
Bussia at AusterHtz, and extorted a peace which set him 
free to overthrow, at Jena and Auerstadt, the fine army 
left by Frederick the Great, and allowed to crystallize by 
his weak successors. Nor did the late Emperor find in his 
front a divided Germany, and the mere survival of a great 
military oi^nization. He found a imited people, and an 
arm^^ surpassing in completeness, as it did in armaments 

••• • 
• • • 

m. •• • •— — — 


— ^the yictors of Prague, Bosbach, and Leuthen. The 
Germany known to tlie Congress of Vienna had disappeared 
— ^the deformed had been transformed. The little seed of 
unity, sown early in the century, had grown into a forest 
tree. The spirit of Amdt had run through the whole 
Teutonic nation, which, after the turmoil of 1848 had 
subsided, and the heavy hand of Russia had been taken off 
by the Crimean War, found a leader in the strongly- 
organized kingdom of Prussia. When the weak and 
hesitating will of Frederick William lY. ceased, first, by 
the operation of a painful disease, and then by extinction, 
to disturb the course of his country's fortune, Prussia, in 
a few years, became practically a new Power. King 
William I., who crowned himself with his own hands at 
Konigsberg, began his task, as a ruler, in a grave and 
earnest spirit, holding that kingship was not only a 
business, but a trust, and taking as his watchwords. Work 
and Duty. No monarch in any age, no private man, ever 
laboured more assiduously and conscientiously at his 
metier, to use the word of Joseph IL, than the King of 
Prussia. He became Begent in 1858, when Napoleon ITT. 
was engaged in preparing for his Italian campaign against 
the House of Austria. French policy, with varying watch- 
words, had run that road for centuries ; and, during the 
summer of 1859, it was the good fortune of the Emperor 
to win a series of victories which brought his army to the 
Mincio, and before the once famous Quadrilateral. The 
German Bund had taken no part in the fray, but the rapid 
successes of the French aroused some apprehensions in 
Berlin, and there went forth an order to mobilize a part of 
the army, which means to put each corps on a war-footing, 
and to assemble a force in Bhenish Prussia. Whatever 
share that demonstration may have had in producing the 
sudden arrangement between the rival Emperors, who 


made peace oyer their cigarettes and coffee at Villafranca, 
the experiment tried by the Berlin War Office had one 
impori^t result — ^it brought to light serious defects in the 
system then practised, and revealed the relative weakness 
of the Prussian army. From that moment, the Begent, 
who soon became Eing by the death of his brother, began 
the work of reforming the military system. For this step, 
at least from a Prussian standpoint, there was good reason ; 
since the kingdom, although it was based on a strong and 
compact nucleus, was, as a whole, made up of scattered 
fragments lying between great military Powers, and 
therefore could not hope to subsist without a formidable 
army. The relative weakness of Prussia had, indeed, been 
burnt into the souls of Prussian statesmen; and Eing 
William, on his accession, determined that as far as in him 
lay, that grave defect should be cured. A keen observer, 
a good judge of character and capacity, his experience of 
men and things, which was large, enabled him at once to 
■elect fit instruments. He picked out three persons, two 
soldiers and a statesman, and severe ordeals in after years 
justified his choice. He appointed General von Boon, 
Minister of War, and no man in modem times has shown 
greater qualities in the organization of an army. He 
placed General von Moltke at the head of the General 
Staff, which that able man soon converted into the best 
equipped and the most effective body of its kind known to 
history. It rapidly became, what it now is, the brain of 
the army, alike in quarters and in the field. Finally, after 
some meditation, he called Herr Otto von Bismarck from 
the diplomatic service, which had revealed his rare and 
peculiar qualities, and made this Pomeranian squire his 
chief political adviser, and the manager of his dehcate and 
weighty State affairs. 

Thenceforth, the long-gathering strength of Prussia, the 


f onndatioiiB of which were bedded de^p in the history of its 
people, began to assume a form and a direction which great 
events revealed to astonished and incredulous Europe. 
The experiment undertaken by the King and his chief 
councillors was rendered less difficult by that effect of the 
Crimean War which so materially lessened the influence of 
Russia in Germany. The intimate and friendly relations 
subsisting between the two Courts remained unbroken, and 
to its preservation in fair weather and foul, Prussia owed, 
to a large extent, the favourable conditions surrounding 
the application and development of her policy. It seemed 
as necessary to Prussian, as it now does to German interests, 
that the Bussian Government should be, at least, benevo- 
lently neutral ; and probably the art of keeping it so was 
profoundly studied by Herr von Bismarck when he filled 
the post of Ambassador to the Court of St. Petersburg. 
The large military reforms designed by the King and his 
advisers aroused an uncompromising opposition in the 
native Parliament, which was only overcome by the firmness 
with which King William supported his outspoken and 
audacious Minister. The victory was secured by methods 
which were called, and were, unconstitutional. The control 
of the Chamber over the Budget was placed in abeyance, 
by a clever interpretation of the fundamental law. It was 
held that if the Deputies could not agree with the 
Government respecting the estimates of the current year, 
the law which they had sanctioned in the preceding year 
still remained valid. Thus the taxes were collected, 
appropriated and expended, just the same as if the Chamber 
had not virtually " stopped the supplies" in order to defeat 
the measures which were intended to give the army stability, 
numbers, efficiency and cohesion. The whole transaction 
ran counter to English maxims and customs ; but it should 
be remembered that Parliamentary Government, and 


especially government . by party, were never, and are not 
even no"v established in Berlin. The net result of the 
contest was the renovation and the strengthening of the 
National Army to an extent which, while it did not exceed, 
perhaps, the expectations of those who laboriously wrought 
it out, left some Powers of Europe ignorant, and others in- 
credulous respecting its value. 

Not that the military institutions of Prussia, dating 
back from the " new model," devised during the stress of 
tbe Napoleonic Wars, had been fundamentally altered. 
Nothing was done except to increase the numbers, close 
up and oil the machinery, render its working prompt 
^jid easy by prudent decentralization, give it a powerful 
brain in the General Staff, and impart to the whole system 
a living energy. The art of war, if the phrase may be 
allowed, was, in accordance with venerable traditions 
rooted in the HohenzoUern House, taken up as a serious 
business ; and that deep sense of its importance which 
prevailed at the fountain head, was made to permeate the 
entire frame. That is the real distinguishing characteristic 
of the Prussian, now the German army, as contrasted with 
the spirit in which simUar labours were undertaken by 
some other Powers. The task was a heavy one, but the 
three men who set about it were equal to the task. King 
William, with a large intelligence, a severe yet kindly 
temper, and a thorough knowledge of his work, threw 
himself heart and soul into the business, and brought to 
bear upon its conduct that essential condition of success, 
the ' * master's eye.' ' General von Boon framed or sanctioned 
the administrative measures which were needed to create 
an almost self-acting and cohesive organism, which could 
be set in motion by a telegram, as an engineer starts a 
complicated piece of machinery by touching a lever. Von 
Moltke, as chief of the General Staff, supplied the directing 


intellect, and established a complete apparatus for the 
collection and classification of knowledge, bearing upon 
military affairs, which might be applied wherever needed. 
These men, working with ** unhasting, unresting" diligence, 
founded a school of war, not based on "the law of the 
Modes and Persians which altereth not," but upon the 
vital principle that a good army should possess in itself 
such a power of adaptation, as will make it always abreast 
with the latest genuine discoveries in tactics, arms, material 
appliances, and discipline. Also the army was treated as 
a great school in which officers and men alike were 
teaching and learning from dawn to sunset, throughout 
the allotted period of service. The principal trio had other 
and able helpers, but they were the main springs moving 
and guiding the marvellous product of constant labour 
applied by rare capacity. 

The ultimate, although not the immediate, effect of the 
French successes at Magenta and Solferino.was the creation 
of an Italian kingdom, which included within its boundaries, 
Naples, Sicily, the States of the Church, except Eome, and 
of course the Duchies on the right bank of the Po. The 
price of compliance, exacted by the Emperor Napoleon, 
whose plans had been thwarted, was the cession to him of 
Nice and Savoy. Venice and the territory beyond the 
Mincio remained Austrian for several years. While the 
map of Italy was in course of reconstruction, the political 
conflict in Berlin raged on with unintermitted violence. 
Simultaneously the Austrian Emperor was induced to 
asseii) his claims to predominance in G-ermany, but the 
plans laid, in 1863, were blighted by the prompt refusal of 
William I. to take any share in them. It was the first 
symptom of reviving hostility between the two Powers, 
although a little later, on the death of the King of 
Denmark, they were found, side by side in arms, to assert 


the claims of the German Bund upon Holstein, Schleswig 
and Lauenburg, and avert the occupation of those countries 
by the troops of Saxony and other minor States alone. The 
campaign which ensued brought the new model of the 
Prussian army to the test of actual experiment. But the 
brave adversaries they had to encounter, if stout in heart, 
were weak in numbers ; and Europe did not set much store 
by the victories then achieved by Prussia. The public and 
the Governments were intently occupied with the Secession 
War in the United States of America, and the astounding 
expedition to Mexico, which was designed to place an 
Austrian Archduke on " the throne of the Montezumas/' 
under illustrious French patronage. Thus the quality of 
the troops, the great influence of the famous "needle- 
gun," the character of the staff, and the excellent adminis- 
trative services escaped the notice of all, save the observant 
few. The political aspects of the dispute were keenly 
discussed. Lord Palmerston and Lord Bussell were, at 
one moment, disposed to fight for the Treaty of 1851 ; but 
the Danish King committed grave blunders ; Bussia stood 
aloof, the Emperor Napoleon III. distinctly refused to 
enter the lists, and the House of Commons was decidedly 
averse to war. Here it should be noted that the French 
Emperor, meditating on the value to him of the rival Powers 
in Germany, had determined to stand weU with both. He 
Loped to please Austria by making the brother of Francis 
Joseph Emperor of Mexico, and to keep open the possibilities 
of an alliance with Prussia, by throwing no obstacles in 
her way on the Eider. 

Then began the great strife between the two Governments 
which had wrested the Elbe Duchies from the Dane. When 
the short war ended, certain divisions from each army were 
posted in the conquered country, and the rivalry which 
animated the two Courts was carried on by diplomats and 


statesmen. Prussian policy, since the days of Frederick II., 
bad leaned always towards, if not an alliance with Bussia, 
yet the maintenance of a solid understanding with that 
growing Power. Herr von Bismarck, who was a deep 
student in the history of his own country, and who had 
always nourished large ideas, kept steadily on the well- 
trodden path, but imparted to his methods a boldness, an 
inventiveness, and an energy most unusual in Prussian 
statescraft. The Polish insurrection of 1864 gave him an 
opportunity which he did not neglect, and while the poor 
patriots were assisted from the side of Galicia, on the Posen 
frontier they were ruthlessly repressed, the Russian and 
Prussian troops making common cause, and crossing the 
frontier whenever that step seemed needful. The ill-fated 
Poles, of course, were defeated; Prussia had recorded a 
fresh claim upon the benevolent neutrality of Bussia, 
while Austrian "ingratitude," never forgiven in St. 
Petersburg, took a deeper tinge in the eyes of the Czar. 
The Prussian Government had not long to wait for their 
reward. During the summer of 1865, the abiding quarrel 
between Vienna and Berlin, respecting the future status of 
the conquered or restored Duchies, nearly came to an open 
rupture. Neither side, however, was ready for a blow, and 
the " Convention of Gastein," which Bismarck, in a letter 
to his wife, defined as a mode of " pasting together the 
cracks in the building," was devised to gain time. The 
Prussian army, still incomplete from the royal and the 
military point of view, had been augmented after the 
Danish war, and the new levies of horse and artillery had 
not acquired the requisite instruction. So the summer 
and autumn of 1865 wore away, revealing the spectacle of 
King William and Herr von Bismarck battling fiercely 
with the Parliament, and not so clearly displaying Yon 
Moltke and Yon Boon labouring hourly to bring the 


machine intrusted to their charge up to the highest 
attainable efficiency. There were other reasons for delay. 
As it was more than probable that the South Germans, and 
possible that the Xing of Hanoyer would not rank them- 
selves with Prussia, but go with Austria and the Bund, an 
ally was wanted who would divide the forces of the largest 
Power. That ally was found in the newly united kingdom 
of Italy. 

But before the Italian envoy astonished the diplomatic 
world by his apparition at Berlin, in March, the controversy 
between Austria and Prussia had gone on rapidly, step by 
step, nearer towards a rupture. Count Mensdorff , on behaU 
of the Emperor Francis Joseph, set up a claim to full 
liberty of action in the Duchy of Holstein, and began 
openly to favour the pretentions of the Duke Frederick of 
Augustenburg to the Ducal Chair. That position was 
vigorously contested by Herr von Bismarck, who put an 
opposite construction on the Treaty, which created what 
was called the "condominium." The consequence was a 
frequent and animated exchange of despatches, containing 
such ** arguments " as seemed proper to the occasion. Into 
the merits of this dispute it is needless to enter now, since 
the whole drift of the verbal struggle shows that while 
Prussia was intent on providing a solid ground on which 
to fight out a long-standing quarrel — "inevitable," said 
Von Moltke, " sooner or later," — ^Austria was by no means 
inclined to shrink from a test directly applied to her posi- 
tion in Germany. Whatever line she had taken her rival 
would have discovered, or tried to discover, an opposing 
course ; but, it so happened, that, whether by chance or 
miscalculation, Count Mensdorff, the Austrian Foreign^ 
Minister, managed his case so as to give advantages to his 
abler antagonist. In the last days of February a great 
council was held in Berlin. Not only the King and his 


chief Minister, but General von Moltke and General von 
ManteufFel, from Schleswig, took part in its deliberations. 
It was the taming point in the grave debate, so far as 
Prussian action was concerned; for the decision then 
adopted unanimously, was, that Prussia could not honour- 
ably recede, but must go forward, eyen at the risk of war. 
No order was given to prepare for that result, because the 
organization of the army was complete, and moreover, 
because ** the King was very adverse to an offensive war.'* 
Nevertheless, from that moment such an issue of the dis- 
pute became certain to occur at an early day. Yet neither 
party wished to fight over the Duchies ; each felt that the 
cause was too paltry. The Austrians, therefore, extended 
the field, by appealing to the Bund, a move which gave 
Herr von Bismarck the advantage he so eagerly sought. 
He answered it by resolving to push, in his own. sense, the 
cause of federal reform. Learning this determination early 
in March, M. Benedetti observed to Herr von Bismarck 
that it would insure peace. *' Yes," answered the Minister 
President, — " for three months," a very accurate forecast 
by a prophet who could fulfil his own prediction, and who 
desired to fight the adversary promptly, lest a reconciliation 
should be effected between Vienna and Pesth, and Hungary, 
from a source of weakness, should thus become a tower of 

A few days later, March 14th, General Govone, from 
Florence, arrived in Berlin. His advent had been preceded 
by attempts, on the part of Bismarck, to discover how the 
French would look on a Prusso-ItaHan alliance. The 
subject was delicate, and even after the General's arrival, it 
was officially stated that he had come, exclusively, to study 
the progress in small arms and artillery ! The pretence 
was soon abandoned, and the negotiations were avowed ; 
but the conclusion of a treaty was delayed for some days* 


because no specific date could be fixed on for the outbreak 
of war, Prussia having determined, at least to make it 
appear, that she was not the aggressor. At length a form 
of words was devised, which satisfied both Powers, stipulat- 
ing that Italy was to share in the war, providing it began 
within " three months," and the Convention was signed on 
the 8th of April. Not, however, before it had been well 
ascertained that France had really helped on the Prussian 
alliance and desired to see war ensue, although, avowedly, 
she did not interfere, giving out that she stood neuter, and 
that the understanding which might be ultimately come to 
between France and Prussia would be determined by the 
march of events, the extension of the war, and the questions 
to which it might give rise. This language foreshadowed 
the policy which the Emperor, if not M. Ihrouyn de Lhuys de- 
sired to follow; and as Russia, recently obliged in the Polish 
troubles, was friendly, if not allied, Herr von Bismarck 
was convinced that no foreign power would array itself on 
the side of Austria, unless the campaign were prolonged. 

Henceforth, the aim of each disputant was to secure 
a vantage-ground in Germany. Austria had partially col- 
lected troops in Bohemia and Moravia, and had secretly 
stipulated with several States to call out four Federal 
corps d'arm^e; while Prussia, who could wait, being always 
ready, had only carried her preparations forward to a 
certain extent. M. von Beust, the Saxon Minister, then 
intervened with a proposal that the Diet should name 
arbiters, whose decision should be final ; a suggestion in- 
stantly rejected by the principals in the quarrel. The 
Emperor Napoleon III., towards the end of May, when 
Prussian mobilization had practicably been completed in 
eight corps, produced his specific — the characteristic pro- 
posal that a Conference should be held in Paris to study 
the means of maintaining the peace. Prussia accepted the 


offer, but Austria put an end to the hopes of Napoleon, bj 
stipulating that no arrangement should be discussed which 
would augment the territory or power of any 'poxij of the 
Conference, and in addition that the Pope -should be invited 
to share in any deliberations on "the Italian Question/' 
These pretensions, by excluding, what everyone wanted, the 
cession of Venetia to Italy, decided the fate of the Con- 
ference. " They desire war at Vienna," said Von Bismarck 
to Count Benedetti. " These conditions have been conjured 
up solely for the purpose of giving the States in South 
Germany time to complete their military preparations." 
And when the news came officially from Paris that the 
Austrian answer had killed the project, the Minister Pre- 
sident shouted in the French Ambassador's presence "Vive 
le Roi ! ** The solution was war. The Prussian army, for 
once, had been mobilized by slow degrees. More than a 
month elapsed between the first precautionary and the 
final steps, but by the 12th of May the entire active army 
had been summoned to arms. The Conference project was 
a last attempt, made, indeed, after all hope of arresting the 
conflict had vanished, alike in Vienna and Berlin ; and it 
was followed by events in Holstein, which put an end to 
the period of suspense, and formed a prelude to the war. 
PracticaUy, but without actual fighting. General von Man- 
teuffel compelled the Austrian brigade, under Field-Marshal 
von Glablenz, to retreat swiftly over the Elbe. The pre- 
text for this strong measure was the fact that Austria, by 
her sole will, had summoned the Estates to meet at Itzehoe, 
and had thus infringed the rights of King William ! There- 
upon Austria requested the Diet at Frankfort to call 
out all the Federal Corps; and her demand was complied 
with, on the 14th of June, by a majority of nine to six. 
The Prussian delegate protested, and withdrew, leaving 
Austria, Bavaria, Saxony, Wurtemburg, the two Hesses, 


and several minor States^ in open combination against 
Prussia. But tlie same stroke which isolated the latter, 
also destroyed the German Bund, invented by the kings 
and statesmen of 1815, to preserve internal tranquillity, 
and safeguard the Fatherland against France. The arrange- 
ment implied the co-operation of two Powers ; one purely 
German, yet subordinate ; the other parcel German, and 
mainly consistiog of divers peoples outside Germany ; and 
it fell to pieces at a blow, because the time had arrived 
when one of the two must attain supremacy. Side by side 
with the secular dynastic conflict arose in the nation that 
longing for unity which could only be accomplished by a 
thoroughly German Power. 

That Power was Prussia, trained for the task by the 
steadfast labours of two hundred years. The army she 
had formed did its work swiftly. Pouring through Saxony 
and over the Silesian Mountains, the King and his son, 
July 3rd, crushed the Austrians, on the memorable field of 
Sadowa, near Koniggratz. The Hanoverian troops, after 
winning the fight at Langensalza, had been obliged to sur* 
render, and in South Germany the army employed to 
overcome the Confederates was equally victorious. On the 
22nd of July, so swiftly had the main body moved, the 
Prussians were in front of Vienna and Presburg on the 
Danube- Four days afterwards, the Emperor Napoleon 
having struck in with an offer of mediation, which was 
accepted, the preliminaries of a peace were signed at 
Nikolsburg, on the 26th of July, and the final treaty was 
settled and ratified at Prague, on the 23rd of August, long 
after King WiUiam and his formidable Minister were once 
more in Berlin. By this instrument, Austria was excluded 
from Germany ; a Northern Confederation, reaching to the 
Main, was founded; Hanover, the Elbe Duchies, Hesse- 
Cassel, and other territories, were annexed to Prussia ; and 


& formal statement was inserted, declaring that Napoleon 
m., to whom Austria had ceded Yenetia, had acquired it 
in order to hand over the city and Terra Firma, as far as the 
Isonzo, to Victor Emmanuel, when the peace should be re- 
established. Prussia thus became the acknowledged head 
of G-ermanj, at least as far as the Main ; and the national 
longing for complete unity was about to be gratified in a 
much shorter time than seemed probable in 1866. 

Naturally, the astonishing successes won by Prussian 
arms against the Federal Corps, as well as the Austrians, 
compelled the South German States to sue for peace, and 
accept public treaties, which, while leaving them independ- 
ent, brought them all, more or less, within the limits of a 
common German federation. But something more import- 
ant was accomplished at Nikolsburg. Herr von der Pf ordten, 
the Bavarian Prime Minister, repaired thither towards the 
end of July, and Bismarck was in possession of information, 
including a certain French document, which enabled him 
to state the German case in a manner so convincing and 
terrifying, that the Bavarian agreed to sign a secret treaty, 
bringing the army within the Prussian system, and stipulat- 
ing that, in case of war, it should pass at once under the 
command of Kiug William. That which Von der Pfordten 
conceded the Ministers of Wurtemburg and Hesse Darm- 
stadt could not refuse, and thus provision was made, on 
the morrow of Sadowa, for that concentration of armed 
Germany which overwhelmed France in 1870-71. So that, 
although nothing formally constituting a United Germany 
had been done, Prussia, by securing the control of all her 
forces, and knowing that a strong and deeply-rooted public 
sentiment would support her, was satisfied that, provid- 
ing time could be gained in which to arm, instruct and 
discipline upon the Prussian model the South Germans and 
the Ixoops raised from the annexed provinces, she would be 


more than a match for France. South Gkrmanj, indeed, 
bad long known herrelative helplessness against the French. 
Perhaps it would be more correct to saj that the real peril 
was more perceptible to the soldiers and statesmen than to 
the people, many of whom were strongly imbued with 
democratic ideas of the French type. Yet, although they 
hungered for what they understood as liberty and independ- 
ence, they were still German, and did not faH to see that 
their cherished desires could not be gratified either under 
French patronage or French prefects. The soldiers and 
statesmen had early perceived the full secret of South 
German dei)endence. The Archduke Charles, who had 
great knowledge and harsh experience to guide him, pointed 
out that the French posts on the Shine had placed the 
country south of the Main at the mercy of France. *' As 
long as the Bhine frontier from Huningen to Lauterboui^ 
remains in her hands," wrote a Prussian staff-officer at a 
later period, " Germany is open on the Bhine frontier to an 
invasion directed upon the Southern States.'' No stronger 
testimony to the sense, if not to the reality of insecurity 
could be adduced, than the remarkable fact that, even so 
far back as the Crimean War, the then King of Wurtem- 
berg, in conversation with Herr von Bismarck, set forth, 
significantly, the feelings, the hopes and the dread of 
South Germany. "Give us Strassburg," he said, "and 
we win unite to encounter any eventuality .... for until 
that city shall become German, it will always stand in the 
way of Southern Germany, devoting herself unreservedly 
to German unity and to a German national policy.'' Hence 
it will be seen that, beyond the Main, there were traditional, 
yet very real fears of French invasion; and that these 
apprehensions had no small share in facilitating the accept- 
ance of the secret military treaties, and in shaping the 
course of subsequent events. 

16 nrrRODucTioN. 

Thus much it Beems needful to state, in order that some 
portion of the earlier transactions which had a great in- 
fluence in bringing on the war of 1870, may be recalled to 
the reader's mind. The short, sharp and decisive duel 
fought between Austria and Prussia for leadership in 
Germany, createda prof oimd impression throughout Europe. 
Austria was irritated as well as humbled ; Russia, although 
the Czar remained more than friendly, was not without 
apprehensions ; but the French ruler and his ministers were 
astounded, indignant and bewildered. The telegram, which 
reported the Battle of Sadowa, wrenched a ** cry of agony ** 
from the Court of the Tuileries, whose policy had been 
based on the conjecture or belief that Prussia would be de- 
feated, and would call for help. The calculation was, that 
Napoleon IIL would step in as arbiter, and that while he 
moderated the demands of Austria, he would be able to 
extort territorial concessions from Prussia as the reward of 
his patronage. M. Drouyn de Lhuys would have had his 
master strike in, at once, and cross the Bhine, or occupy 
the Palatinate ; but the Emperor was not then in the mood 
for heroic enterprises ; he feared that his army was not 
" ready,'' and, besides, he still thought that by arrangement 
he could obtain some sort of " compensation " from Prussia, 
at the expense of Germany. But all he did was to pose as 
mediator at Nikolsburg ; and Herr von Bismarck, who had 
done his utmost to keep him in a dubious frame of mind, 
regarded it as ** fortunate " that he did not boldly thrust 
himself into the quarrel. The " golden opportunity " slid 
by ; M. Drouyn de Lhuys resigned ; and Imperial France 
acquiesced, publicly^ in the political and territorial arrange- 
ments which, for the first time, during thelapse of centuries, 
laid broad and deep the foundations of German Unity, 
and, as a consequence, rendered inevitable a Franco-German 




THE Treaty of Prague, the secret militarj oonventions 
signed at iN'ikolsburg, the ascendancy secured by Yon 
Bismarck, now elevated to the dignity of a Count, together 
with the complete removal of alien Powers from Italy, 
wrought a radical change in the political relations of the 
European States. Excluded from Germany, although in- 
cluding powerful G-erman elements, the dominions of 
Austria still extended to the verge of Yenetia and the 
Lombard plains ; but as the Prussian statesman had already 
hinted, her future lay Eastward, and her centre of gpravity 
had been removed to Buda-Pesth. In the South German 
Courts, no doubt, there was a bias towards Yienna, and a 
dislike of Prussia ; yet both the leaning and the repugnance 
were counterbalanced by a deeper dread of France rooted 
in the people by the vivid memories of repeated and cruel 
invasions. Bussia, somewhat aJarmed by the rapid success 
of King William, had been soothed by diplomatic re- 
assurances, the tenour of which is not positively known, 
although a series of subsequent events more than justified 
the inference made at that time, that promises, bearing on 
the Czar's Eastern designs, were tendered and accepted as 
a valuable consideration for the coveted boon of benevolent 
neutrality, if not something more substantial. Like Bussia, 



France bad lost nothing by the campaign of 1866; ber 
territories were intact ; ber ruler bad mediated between 
Austria and Prussia ; and be bad tbe honour of protecting 
the Pope, who, as a spiritual and temporal Prince, was 
still in possession of Bome and restricted territoiial do- 
mains. But tbe Napoleonic Court, and manj who looked 
upon its bead as a usurper, experienced, on tbe morrow 
of Sadowa, and in a greater degree after tbe preface to a 
peace bad been signed at Nikolsburg, a sensation of di- 
minished magnitude, a consciQUsness of lessened prestige, 
and a painful impression that their political, perhaps even 
their military place in Europe, as tbe heirs of Bicbelieu, 
Louis XIY., and Napoleon, bad been suddenly occupied by 
a Power which they had taught tbemselyes to contemn as 
an inferior. Until the summer of 1866 tbe Emperor 
Napoleon fancied that be was strong enough to play with 
the Prussian Minister a game of diplomatic finesse ; in- 
deed, he seems to have thought that the Pomeranian gentle- 
man would be an easy prey ; but having thus put it to 
the proof, he did not concur in the maxim that it is as 
pleasant to be cheated as to cheat, especially when tbe re- 
sult is chiefly due to complaisant self-deception. On the 
other band, Herr von Bismarck had no longer any delusions 
concerning Louis Napoleon. If, at an early period, when tbe 
English Badicalswere considering whether the new Emperor 
was "stupid," a proposition they bad taken for granted 
theretofore, he bad oyer-estimated the capacity of tbe self- 
styled " parvenu," later experience bad reduced tbe estimate 
to just proportions, and bad produced a correct judgment 
upon tbe character of one who, down to the last, was always 
tcJi^en for more than be was worth. If any one knew him 
well, it was probably bis cousia, the Due de Momy, and 
M. St. Marc Girardin has preserved a sentence which is an 
illuminative commentary upon so many curious trans- 


actions during the Second Empire. " The greatest difficulty 
with the Emperor/' said De Momj, " is to remove from his 
mind a fixed idea, and to give him a steadfast wilL" His 
fixed ideas were not always compatible one with another. 
He professed great devotion to the " principle of nation- 
alities ; " yet he desired to carry the French frontiers as far 
as the !Bhine, adding further German populations and 
Flemish towns whose inhabitants are not French to those 
acquired by Louis XIV. He wished for peace, no doubt, 
when he said that the Empire was synonymous with that 
word, but he also hungered for the fruits of war; and, 
knowing that his internal position and his external projects 
required, to uphold the one and realize the other, a strong 
and complete army, he had neither the wit to construct a 
trustworthy instrument, nor the ceaseless industry needed 
to make the most of an inferior product, nor that absolute 
independence of the party whose audacity gave him his 
crown, which would have enabled him to select, in all cases, 
the best officers for the higher and highest commands. 
Before, and during the war of 1866, he wavered between 
two lines of policy, hoping to combine the advantages of 
both ; and when it was over he demanded compensation for 
his *' services " as an alarmed spectator, although he had 
made no bargain for payment, but had stood inactive be- 
cause he conjectured that it would be the more profitable 

Frevich demcmdsfor the Rhine, 
In making that calculation he erred profoundly. M. 
Benedetti, the French Ambassador to the Court of Berlin, 
was instructed as early as the first week in August, 1866, 
to claim the left bank of the Bhine as far as, and including 
the important fortress of Mainz. ** Knowing the temper 


of the Minister-President/' and knowing also, as he had 
repeatedly told his GoTornment, that all Germany would 
resist any proposal to cede the least portion of territory, he 
first sent in a copy of M. Dronyn de Lhuys' despatch, and 
afterwards called on the Minister. Prince von Bismarck, 
in 1871, published in the ofGidal newspapers his account of 
the famous interview, which shows that Benedetti, as he 
had pledged himself to do, resolutely pressed the large de- 
mand. He was told that it meant war, and that he had 
" better go to Paris to prevent a rupture/* Unmoved, he 
replied that he would return home, '* but only to maintain 
a proposition the abandonment of which would imperil the 
dynasty/' '' The parting words " of the Prussian statesman 
to Count Benedetti, as nearly as they could be remembered 
by the man who spoke them, were calculated to suggest 
grave reflections. *' Please to call His Majesty's attention 
to this," said Herr von Bismarck. " Should a war arise 
out of this complication, it might be a war attended by a 
i^evolutionary crisis. In such a case the German dynasties 
are likely to prove more solid than that of the Emperor 
Napoleon." It was a menace and a prophetic warning, 
which touched a sensitive fibre in the heart of the French 
ruler, who, after a conversation with Count Benedetti, 
wrote, on the 12th of August, a remarkable letter to M. de 
Lavalette, who became the (id interim sucoessor of M. 
Drouyn de Lhuys. Expressing his fears lest " the journals " 
should taunt him with the refusal of his demand for the 
Bhine provinces, he directed that the report should be con- 
tradicted, flatly ; and he added, '* the true interest of France 
is not to obtain an insignificant increase of territory, but to 
aid Qermany in constituting herself after a fashion which 
will be most favourable to our interests and those ol 
Europe.^ Neither Bodona n<Mr Belphos could have been 
mikra tfnicalar. Alarmed as h» was, he did not uitofgsther 


recede from liis position, but occupied it in a different way. 
On the 16th. of August a fresh set of proposals was forwarded 
to Count Benedetti, comprising a regular scale of con- 
cessions — the frontiers of 1814 and the annexation of 
Belgium, or Luxemburg and Belgium, or the Duchj with 
Belgium, without Antwerp, which was to be " declared a 
free city." The last-named device was designed ** to 
obviate the intervention of England " when the projected 
act of violence was committed. " The minimumwe require," 
wrote the French Government to M. Benedetti, " is an 
ostensible treaty which gives us Luxemburg, and a secret 
treaty which, stipulating for an offensive and defensive 
Alliance, leaves us the chance of annexing Belgium at the 
right moment, Prussia engaging to assist us, by force of 
arms, if necessary, in carrying out this purpose." If Herr 
Yon Bismarck asked what he should gain by such a treaty, 
the answer was to be that he would secure a powerful ally, 
and that ** he was only desired to consent to the cession of 
what does not belong to him." The official papers on which 
these statements are founded were discovered and acquired 
by the Germans in Cercay, M. Rouher's chateau, during 
the war of 1870 ; neither their authenticity nor the con- 
struction put on them have ever been contested ; and they 
show, plainly, what was the kind of projects nourished by 
the French Court in 1866-67. The precise manner in which 
Oount von Bismarck actually dealt with them has not been 
revealed, but he kept a rough copy of the project drawn up 
by Benedetti, which was handed to him by the French 
Ambassador in 1867, and the boxes of papers found at 
Cercay gave him the draft treaty itself annotated by the 
Emperor. Practically, the secret negotiation dropped, was 
not renewed for several months, and was only " resumed, 
subsequently, at various times," without producing any 
other result than that of letting Bismarck know the plans 


which were conceiyed in Paris, and inducing him to keep 
the Napoleonic Gh>Yemment in play. There can be no 
doubt on one point. The Prussian statesman did, at yarious 
periods, probably at Biarritz in 1865, when he captiyated 
Prosper Merimee, and afterwards, while refusing point- 
blank to cede an inch of German soil, ask his interested 
auditors why they couldnot indemnify themselyes by seizing 
Belgium. But a grim smile of irony must haye lighted up 
his face when he pointed to a prey which would not haye to 
be ceded, but caught and oyerpowered by main strength. 
He was tempting, probing, playing with the Frenchman, 
employing what he called the '' dilatoiy " method, because 
he wanted time to equip the new and still imperfect Ger« 
many ; and, considering their own dark schemes, can it be 
said that they deseryed better treatment ? 

Haying direct knowledge of the steps taken by France in 
August, 1866, the earliest recorded formal attempt to pro- 
cure secret treaties on the basis of territorial concessions, 
with what searching comment must Bismarck haye read 
the astonishing diplomatic circular, signed by M. de 
Layalette, and sent out on the 2nd of September, at the 
yery time when the dark proceedings just briefly sketched 
were in full swing ! It was a despatch framed for public 
consumption, and intended to present the Imperial policy 
in a broad, generous, and philosophic light, haying no rela« 
tion to the course which, either then or afterwards, the 
French ruler followed. Louis Napoleon told the whole 
world that France could not pursue " an ambiguous policy," 
at the moment when he was meditating the forcible ac- 
quisition of Belgium. The Emperor painted himself as 
one who rejoiced in the change effected by the war, perhaps 
because it shattered the treaties of 1815. Prussia, he said, 
had insured the independence of Germany ; and France 
need not see in that fact any shadow cast oyer herself. 


'* Proud of ber admirable unity, and indestructible nation- 
alitj, she cannot oppose or condemn the work of fusion 
going on in Germany." Bj imitating, she took a step 
nearer to, not farther from, France ; and the Imperial philo* 
sopher professed not to see why public opinion "should 
recognize adversaries, instead of allies, in those nations 
which — enfranchised from a past inimical to us — are 
summoned to new life." But there was consolation for 
those alarmed patriots who could read between the lines. 
Petty states, they were assured, tended to disappear and 
give place to large agglomerations ; the Imperial Gbyem- 
ment had always understood that annexations should only 
bring together kindred populations ; and France, especially, 
oould desire only such additions as would not affect her 
internal cohesiyeness — sentences which, like finger-poster, 
pointed to the acquisition of Belgium. The war of 1866, 
it was admitted, showed the necessity of perfecting the 
organization of the army ; yet smooth things were predicted 
by the Imperial soothsayer, for, on the whole, the horizon, 
in September, as scanned from Paris, seemed to be clear of 
menacing possibilities, and a lasting peace was secure f 
The despatch was, in fact, prepared and administered as a 
powerful anodyne. By keeping the French moderately 
quiet, it suited the purposes of Bismarck, who, well aware 
of the uneasiness which it covered, felt quite equal to the 
task of coping with each fresh attempt to obtain '* com* 
pensation" as it might arise» Perhaps Louis Napoleon 
was sincere when he dictated this interesting State paper, 
for it is not devoid of some " fixed ideas " which he 
cherished; yet probably it may take rank as a curious 
example of the subtle tactics which he often applied to de- 
ceive himself, as well as to cajole his people and his neigh- 
bours. At all events, his will, if he willed peace, did not 
endure for he soon sanctioned and set in motion renewed 


projects, for he intended to push forward tlie boundary 
posts of France. 

As he found Prussia polite yet intractable, and prompt 
to use plain language, if concessions were demanded, the 
Emperor Napoleon formed, or was advised to form, an in- 
genious plan whereby he hoped to secure Luxemburg. He 
entered into secret negotiations with Holland for the pur- 
chase of the Duchy. The Queen of Holland, a Princess of 
the House of Wurtemburg, was a keen partizan of France. 
She it was, who, in July, 1866, uttered a cry of warning 
which reached the Tuileries. " It is the dynasty," she 
wrote, " which is menaced by a powerful Germany and a 
powerful Italy, and the dynasty will have to suffer the con- 
sequences. When Yenetia was ceded, you should hare 
succoured Austria, marched on the Bhine, and imposed 
your own conditions. To permit the destruction of Austria 
is more than a crime, it is a blunder." Perhaps the notion 
that Luxemburg could be acquired by purchase came from 
this zealous, clear-sighted, and outspoken lady. Wherever 
it may have originated, the scheme was hotly pursued, 
negotiations were opened at the Hague, the usual Napoleonic 
operations were actually begun to obtain a pl^iscite from 
the Duchy ; Count von Bismarck was discreetly sounded by 
M. Benedetti, with the usual indefinite result, and the con- 
sent of the King of Holland was obtained without much 
difficulty. At the same time there was a strong current of 
opposition in the Dutch Government, and Prince Henry, 
the Governor of Luxemburg, made no secret of his hostility. 
The King himself was subject to recurring tremors caused 
by his reflections on the possible action of the Prussian 
Court ; and his alarms were only mitigated or allayed from 


time to time by assurances based, in reality, on M. Bene- 
detti's "impressions" tbat the Chancellor was not un- 
favourable to the plan of cession. The truth is that M. 
Benedetti did not accurately perceive the position which 
Bismarck had taken up from the outset. It might be thus 
expressed : " Luxemburg belongs to the King of Holland. 
It is his to keep or give away. If you want the Duchy, 
why don't you take it, and with it the consequences, which it 
is for you to forecast." The French Court and its Ministers 
still laboured under the belief that they could manage the 
Berlin Government, and they put their own interpretation 
on the vague, perhaps tempting language of the Chancellor. 
At a certain moment, the fear, always lurking in the King 
of Holland's breast, gained the mastery, and he caused the 
secret to be disclosed to the public. ** He would do nothing 
without the consent of the King of Prussia ; " and by re- 
vealing the negotiations he forced on a decision. The 
incident which terrified the King of Holland was, no doubt, 
startling. M. Thiers had made a strong anti-German 
speech in the Chamber, and M. Rouher had developed his 
theory of the " trois tron9on8," or triple division of Ger- 
many. The Chancellor, who had acquired full knowledge 
of French pretensions from French Ministers, answered 
both statesmen by printing, in the foreground of the 
** Official Gazette," the treaty which gave King William the 
control of the Bavarian army, in case of war. That fact 
also produced a decisive effect upon the Dutch monarch, 
who saw in this characteristic indirect retort to the French 
parliamentary display a menace specially directed against 
himself. Hence the revelation sufficed to thwart the bar- 
gain, then so far finished that signatures were alone wanting 
to render it binding. The German people fired up at the 
bare mention of such a proposal as the cession of a German 
province. M. de Moustier, vexed and taken aback, called 


on Bismarck to restrain the passions of his countrymen, and 
vainly urged the Dutch monarch to sign the treaties. On 
the morning of the day when he was to be questioned in the 
Reichstag, Bismarck asked Benedetti whether he would 
authorize the Minister to state in the Chamber that the 
treaties had been signed at the Hague. The Ambassador 
could not give the required authority, seeing that although 
the King, under conditions, had pledged his word to the 
Emperor, the formal act had not been done, because 
Prussia had not answered the appeal for consent from the 
Hague. On Apnl 1, 1867, while Napoleon was opening the 
Exhibition in. Paris, Herr von Bennigsen put his famous 
question respecting the current rumours about a treaty of 
cession. If the French were not prepared for the fierce 
outburst of Teutonic fervour, still less could they relish 
the question put by Herr von Bennigsen and the answer 
which it drew from the Chancellor. The former described 
the Duchy as an " ancient province of the collective Father- 
land," and the latter, while "taking into account the 
French nation's susceptibilities," and giving a brief history 
of the position in which Luxemburg stood towards Ger- 
many, made his meaning clear to the French Court "The 
confederate Q-overnments,*' he said, " are of opinion that 
no foreign power will interfere with the indisputable rights 
of G-erman States and German populations. They hope to 
be able to vindicate and protect those rights by peaceful 
negotiations, without prejudicing the friendly relations 
which Germany has hitherto entertained with her neigh- 
hours." Napoleon and his advisers were not likely to 
misconstrue language which, although it lacked the direct- 
ness of Yon Bennigsen's sentences, obviously meant that 
the French scheme could not be worked out. Indeed, a few 
days earlier, the Chancellor had used a significant phrase. 
Answering a question in the Chamber, he said : — " If the 


previous speaker can mana^ to induce the Grand Duke 
(of Luxemburg) to come into the North Gkrman Federa- 
tion, he will be able to say that he has called an European 
question into existence ; what more. Time alone can show." 
The phrase could hardly have escaped the notice of M. de 
Moustier, and coupled with the second reply, already 
quoted, gave rise to indignation not unmixed with alarm. 
At first the Emperor seemed determined not to recede, and 
he took counsel with his generals, who could not give him 
encouragement, because they knew that the Goyemment 
was absolutely without the means of making even a re- 
spectable defence against an invasion. The period of sus- 
pense at the Tuileries did not endure long. Shortly after 
the scene in the Beichstag, the Prussian Minister at the 
Hague brought the matter to a crisis by a message which 
he delivered to the Dutch Government. The King of the 
Netherlands, he is reported to have said, can act as he 
pleases, but he is responsible for what he may do. If he 
had believed that the meditated cession was a guarantee of 
peace, it was the Minister's duty to destroy the illusion. 
" My Government," he added, " advises him in the most 
formal manner, not to give up Luxemburg to Prance." 
The blow was fatal ; the "King of course, took the advice to 
heart, and such a stroke was all the more deeply felt in 
Paris because there the Emperor, who had considered the 
end gained, now knew from Marshal Niel that it would be 
madness to provoke a war. Yet, unless a loophole of 
escape could be found, war was imminent. M. de Moustier 
discovered a safe and dignified line of retreat. The 
Chancellor had referred to the treaty of 1839 which 
governed the status of Luxemburg ; M. de Moustier took 
him at his word, and virtually brought the dispute within 
the purview of Europe, by formally demanding that the 
Prussiaji garrison should be withdrawn. He held that 



since the German forces were practically centred in the 
hands of Prussia, Luxemburg, no longer a mere defensive 
post, had become a menace to France. In this contention 
there was much truth, seeing that the new Confederation 
of the North, and its allies in the South, constituted a 
political and military entity far more formidable and 
mobile than the old Bund. When the Chancellor refused 
a demand, which his adversaries assert he was at one time 
prepared to grant, the French Government, declaring that 
they had no wish for other than friendly relations with 
Berlin, appealed to Europe. The dispute ended in a com- 
promise arranged as usual beforehand, and settled at a 
conference held in London. The garrison was withdrawn, 
the fortifications were to be razed, and the Duchy, like 
Belgium, was thenceforth to be neutral ground, covered by 
a collective guarantee of the Powers ; but it stiU remained 
within the German ZoUverein. 

There were at work several influences which largely 
operated to determine a peaceful issue. The French 
possessed no real army, and the Emperor had only just 
begun to think about the needful military organization on 
a new model ; he had, besides, on hand an International 
Exhibition, by which he set great store ; and in addition a 
summons to withdraw a garrison did not provide a ccutis 
belli certain to secure the support of public opinion. Nor 
did the Prussian Government consider the moment oppor- 
tune, or the question raised a suitable ground on which to 
determine the inveterate cause of quarrel between France 
and Germany. Upon this subject Dr. Busch ha& recorded 
some characteristic observations made by the Chancellor, at 
Versailles, in 1870. ** I remember,** he said, " when I was 
at the Paris Exhibition of 1867, 1 thought to myself ' how 
would it have been by now, if we had fought out the Luxem- 
burg quarrel? Should I be in Paris, or the French in 


Berlin ? ' We were not nearly as strong then as we are 
now. The Hanoverians and Hessians of that day could not 
have supplied ns with so many good soldiers as to-day. 
As for the Schleswig-Holsteiners, who have lately been 
fighting like lions, they had no army at all. The Saxon 
army was broken up, and had to be entirely reconstructed. 
And there was but little to be expected from the South 
Germans. What splendid fellows the Wurtembergers are 
now, quite magnificent ! but in 1866 no soldier could help 
laughing at them, as they marched into Frankfort like a 
civic guard. Nor was all well with the Baden forces ; the 
Grand Duke has done a great deal for them since then. 
Doubtless public opinion throughout Germany was with 
us, if we had chosen to make war about Luxemburg. But 
that would not have made up for all those shortcomings." 
It is plain, from this retrospective comment, which comes 
in aid of other evidence, that the great conflict, deferred to 
1870, was nearly brought about in 1867, and that France 
was saved from utter rout, at that early period, by the 
operation of a set of influences over which neither of the 
principal actors had full control. The Franco-Dutch n^o- 
tiation was the last attempt which the Emperor Napoleon 
made to obtain territory by direct or furtive diplomatic 
processes. In the early stages of the risky business he had 
fuU confidence in his own ascendancy, not to say ** prepon- 
derance*' in European councils. He was rudely unde- 
ceived. Herr von Bismarck had tempted him with all 
kinds oi suggestions, but the Emperor himself, his Ministers 
and Ambassadors had been content to take the " impres- 
sions," which they derived from confidential conversations, 
for definite, binding promises. One French agent cor- 
rectly described the fact when he said that "Herr von 
Bismarck is ready, not to offer us compensations, but to 
allow us to take them ; " he might have added, '* if we can 


and at our own risk." There is no published evidence that 
the Prussian statesman ever offered to cede Luxemburg, or 
sanction the annexation of Belgium, or preclude himself 
from adopting, at any conjuncture, the line which appeared 
most accordant with German interests. On the contrary, 
long after the interviews at Biarritz and in Paris, and the 
battle of Sadowa, Napoleon III., to use his own terms, 
wanted, at least, " une certitude relative " that the Prussian 
Grovernment would not interpose any obstacle in the way 
of French "aggrandizement" in the North. He asked, 
not for words, but an act which he could never obtain ; and 
the Luxemburg incident proved to him conclusively that 
nothing could be gained by making demands on the Court 
of Prussia. In 1867 and afterwards in November, 1870, 
according to Dr. Busch, Bismarck described with his usual 
fi-ankness the hesitation of the Emperor. He had not 
understood his advantages, in 1866, when he might have 
done a good business, although not on German soil, was 
the earlier commentary. The later was more illuminative. 
" In the summer of 1866," said Bismarck, " Napoleon had 
not the pluck to do what was the right thing from his point 
of view. He ought— well, he ought to have takenpossession 
of the subject of Benedetti's proposal [Belgium], when we 
were marching against the Austrians, and have held it in 
pawn for whatever might happen. At that time we could not 
stop him, and it was not likely that England would attack 
him — at least he might have waited to see." On this it 
may be observed that the influence of Lord Cowley and 
Lord Clarendon would probablj have sufficed to turn him 
from such a plan had it entered into the Emperor's mind • 
and had he delivered the blow, in defiance of their protests, 
or without consultmg them, England, at that time, would 
have been enraged at the treachery, and would have certainly 
occupied Antwerp. The Emperor was a man who caressed 


audacious projects wliich he had not always the nerve and 
courage to carrj out. What is more astonishing, he did 
not or could not provide the means essential to the accom- 
plishment of his desires. Thus the precedent afforded by 
his conduct in 1866 was followed in 1867, and in each case 
the result was the same — vexatious failure. 

An Interlude of Peace. 
The war-clouds sank below the horizon, the Paris Exhibi- 
tion was duly opened sovereigns and princes, statesmen and 
generals, journeyed to the French capital, and the Court 
of the Tuileries gave itself up to amusement, gaiety, and 
dissipation, neglecting nothing which could give pleasure 
to its illustrious guests. It was the last hour of splendour, 
the sunset of the Empire. Yet the brilliant scenes, which 
followed each other day by day, were even then flecked 
with dark shades. If politics were evaded or ignored in 
the palace, they were not absent from the highways. 
Polish hatred found vent in the attempt of Berezowski to 
slay the unfortunate Emperor Alexander II., and M. 
Floquet shouted in his ear as he passed through the Courts 
of Justice, " Vive la Pologne ! " The crime and the insult 
augured ill for the future of that Franco-Eussian alliance 
which Charles X. endeavoured to establish and certain 
French statesmen have always sighed for. M. Hansen re- 
cords a sharp observation made by Prince GortchakofE during 
the Polish insurrection which the Western Powers regarded 
with friendly eyes. The Vice-Chancellor held that France 
and Kussia were natural allies, because their interests were 
the same. " If the Emperor Napoleon will not admit it," 
he roughly said, " so much the worse for him. Govern- 
ments vanish, nations remain." Still, in 1867, he did not 
find the nation more favourable than the Government had 
been in 1864. Twenty years later, although Bussia had 


become less unpopular, at least with the politicians, and a 
yearning for a Russian alliance had gathered strength, the 
ultras proved how little thej understood some conditions 
essential to its gratification bj clamoring for the pardon 
and liberation of Berezowski! The Prussian King and 
Queen were not exposed to any outrage, and the Parisians 
gazed with curiosity upon Bismarck and Moltke, whom 
they admired, and had not yet learned to detest; but 
the sparkling and joyful assemblies, although the actors, 
on both sides, were doubtless sincere at the time, never- 
theless suggests a famous incident in the French £evo- 
lution which figures on historical pages as " le baiser de 
Tamourette." And underneath the shining surface were 
concealed gnawing anxieties and fears. The Emperor 
Napoleon had dreamed that he could found a Mexican 
empire, and he had induced the Austrian Archduke Maxi. 
milian to accept at his hands an Imperial crown. The 
enterprise, which was pushed on by French troops, not only 
failed, but irritated England, who had been deceived, and 
offended the United States, whose Government, victors in 
a civil war, would not tolerate the establishment of the 
** Latin race '* in the centre of the huge continent. Not 
only had it become necessary to recall the troops, but to 
bear a still deeper misfortune— if the word may be applied 
to the consequences of a reckless and unscrupulous adven- 
ture. It was while opening the Exhibition that the earliest 
hints reached the Emperor of an event which dealt hiTiri a 
heavy blow ; and, on the eve of the day fixed for the dis- 
tribution of prizes to the competitors he had assembled, 
came the confirmation of the dreaded intelligence, whispered 
weeks before. The gallant Archduke and Emperor Maxi- 
milian, who had fallen into the hands of the triumphant 
and implacable Mexicans, had been tried and shot, a deed 
whiiM^ his French patron was powerless to avenge. 


The Salzburg Interview. 
The tragedy of Quaretaro reacted upon European politics, 
and incidentallj emphasized afresh the perennial antagon- 
isia between France and Germany. Still smarting from 
the wounds of 1866, Austria hungered for an ally, and the 
Saxon Count von Beust, whom the Emperor Francis 
Joseph had made his Chancellor, was eager to try one more 
fall with Count von Bismarck. Swayed by political reasons, 
the Austrian Emperor not only did not resent the death of 
his brother, but was even willing to welcome as his guest 
Louis Napoleon, who had so successfully seduced the Arch- 
duke by dangling before him the bait of an Imperial crown. 
The French Emperor and his Empress, therefore, travelled 
in state through South Germany to Salzburg, where they 
met their Austrian hosts. The occasion was, nominally, 
one of condolence and mourning, and the vain regrets on 
both sides were doubtless genuine. Tet it so chanced that 
the days spent in the lovely scenery of Salzburg were given 
up to gay mirth and feasting — ^not to sorrow and gloom ; 
and that the irrepressible spirit of politics intruded on the 
brilliant company gathered round an open grave. Both 
•emperors felt aggrieved ; one by the loss of his high estate 
in Germany and his Italian provinces, the other because 
his demand for the Ehenish territory had been rejected, 
and he had not been allowed to take Belgium or buy Luxem- 
burg. The common enemy was Prussia, who had worsted 
Austria in battle, and France in diplomacy ; and at Salz- 
burg, perhaps earlier, the ground plans were sketched for 
an edifice which the architects trusted might be built up 
sufficiently large and strong to contain, at least, two allies. 
The sketch was vague, yet it was definite enough at least 
to reveal the designs of the draughtsmen ; and the Emperors 
returned home still in jubilation. 


Perbaps tbe Emperor Napoleon suffered some pangs of 
disappointment. " Austria was his last card," says M. 
Bothan, who, from the French standpoint, has so keenly 
studied the period preceding the war of 1870. He wanted 
an offensive and defensive alliance, which Austria would 
not accord. Count von Beust fearing that so grave a fact 
would never escape the lynx-eyes of Bismarck, who, when 
it came to his knowledge, would not fail to provoke a war 
before either ally had fully, or even partially, completed 
his military preparations, then so much in arrear. Not 
only were they backward in 1867, but Austria, at all events, 
was still unprovided in 1870. The Archduke Albrecht, who 
visited Paris during the month of February of that year, 
impressed the fact on the Emperor Napoleon. " The story 
runs," says M. Bothan, ''that, after having quitted the 
study of his Majesty, the Archduke returned, and, through 
the half-opened door, exclaimed, * Sire, above all things do 
' not forget, whatever may happen, that we shall not be in a 
fit state to fall into line before a year.* " Hence, it may 
well be that the Austrian Chancellor was even then deter- 
mined, in case of a conflict, to shape his policy in accord- 
ance with the first victories ; and that the meditations of 
the Emperor Napoleon, as he re-crossed the Ehine, were 
tinged with bitter reflections on his political isolation. A 
little later, when he knew that Bismarck had discovered 
the drift of the conversation at Salzburg, his anxieties must 
have become more poignant. That Chancellor, who had 
secured afresh the goodwill of Bussia, and beheld with 
satisfaction the effect of the Imperial display on Germany, 
enlarged, in a circular despatch, on the proof thus once 
more afforded that German national feeling could not en- 
dure " the mere notion " of ** foreign tutelage " where the 
Interests of the Fatherland were concerned. Germany had 
a right to mould her own fortunes and frame her own con- 


stitation. So that, as Yon Biiest had foreseen, the dreaded 
Chancellor had- promptly turned to account even the col- 
loquies of Salzburg. " France, with one hand," he said, 
" presents us with soothing notes, and with the other per- 
mits us to see the point of her sword." There was no open 
quarrel between the two antagonists, but each suspected 
and closely watched the other. M. Bothan, himself a 
vigilant and zealous official, furnishes an amusing example. 
In November, 1866, he learned from " a Foreign minister 
accredited to a South German Court," what was to him the 
appalling fact that the Imperial work of mediation at 
Nikolsburg had been counteracted, "even before it had 
been sanctioned by the Treaty of Prague." He referred to 
the now famous military treaties. M. de X , his in- 
formant^ he says, obtained his knowledge of the secret by 
a sort of inquisitorial method, "a la fa^on d'un juge 
d'instruction," that is, he affirmed the existence of the 
documents, and thus extorted confessions, express or 
implied. " The Bavarian Foreign Minister," he said, 
blushed ; " the Minister of Wiirtembei^ was confused ; the 
Minister of Baden did not deny it, and the Minister of 

Hesse avowed everything." Further, M. de X asserted 

that, when it was no longer necessary to keep France in 
good humour, Prussia would enforce the clauses which gave 
her supreme command, and would bring the Southern 
armies into harmony with her own organization. Appar- 
ently, this authentic information did not obtain a ready 
belief in the autumn of 1866 ; but it alarmed and disturbed 
the French Court, and the public confirmation of the un- 
welcome report, less than a year afterwards, visible to all 
men in the actual re-organization of the Southern armies, 
together with the failure to purchase Luxemburg, still 
farther inc^ased the suspicion, deepened the alarm, and 
aroused the indignation of the Emperor at the slights in- 


flicted on France, who, as the ** predominant " Continental 
power and the " vanguard of civilization/' always considered 
that she ought to have her own way. 

The Emperor seeks AUies. 
In the beginning of 1868 the principal parties were en- 
gaged in pi^eparing for a conflict which each considered to 
be inevitable ; and the other Powers, great and small, more < 
or less concerned, were agitated by hopes and fears. 
Bussia desired to recover her freedom of movement in the 
East, and especially to throw off what Prince Gortchakoff 
called his " robe de Nessus," the clause in the treaty of 
Paris which declared the Euxine to be a neutral sea. | 
Austria aimed at the restoration of her authority in G-er- 
many, and was not yet convinced that her path lay east. I 
ward. Italy had many longings, but her pressing necessity 
was to seat herself in the capital of the Caesars and the 
Popes, once again occupied by the French, who had re- 
entered the Papal States to expel the Gkiribaldians. It; was 
in the skirmish at Mentana that the new breech-loading | 
^fle, the Chassepot, ''wrought miracles,'' according to 
General de Failly, and established its superiority over the ; 
" lieedle gun.'' Holland, Belgium, and even Switzerland 
were troubled by the uncertain prospect which the Imperial 
theory of '' large agglomerations " had laid bare ; Spain 
was in the throes of a revolutionary convulsion ; and Eng- 
land — she had just mended her constitution, and had 
begun to look on Continental politics with relative indiffer- 
ence, except in so far as they affected the fortunes of ' 
** parties," and might be used strategically as a means of 
gaining or holding fast the possession of power. Yet so 
strained wei*e the relations of France and Prussia that 
General V*^ Moltke actually framed, in the spring of 1868, 


the plan of campaign which he literallj carried ont in 1870 
— a fact implying that even then he considered that his 
Government was sufficiently prepared to encounter the new 
and imperfectly developed scheme of army organization 
and armament originally devised hy the Emperor and 
Marshal Niel, and modified to satisfy the objections and 
suspicions raised in a deferential Senate and an obliging 
Chamber of Deputies. For while the Opposition distrusted 
the Emperor, the whole body shrank from the sacrifices 
which Csesar and his Minister of War considered necessary 
to the safety of the State from a defensive, and absolutely 
indispensable from an offensive point of view. The prime 
actors in the drama expressed a love of peace, perhaps with 
equal sincerity : but as Germany thirsted for unity, all the 
more because France, true to her traditional policy, forbad 
it, the love so loudly avowed could not be gratified unless 
Germany submitted, or France ceased to dictate. ** I did 
not share the opinion of those politicians," said Bismarck 
in July, 1870, " who advised me not to do all I could to 
avoid war with France because it was inevitable. Nobody," 
he added, " can exactly foresee the purposes of IXvine Pro- 
vidence in the future ; and I regard even a victorious war 
as an evil from which statesmanship should strive to pre- 
serve nations. I could not exclude from my calculations 
the possibility that chances might accrue in France's con- 
stitution and policy which might avert the necessity of war 
from two great neighbour races— a hope in connection with 
which every postponement of a rupture was so much to 
the good." The language is a little obscure, but the 
meaning will be grasped when it is remembered that his 
remark on the " chances " referred to the probable grant 
of increased freedom to the French Parliament, which he 
thought would fetter the Court and thwart the politicians. 
That forecast was not justified by the event, since it was 


tbe partially-liberated Chamber and the Liberal Ministry 
which 80 hastily sanctioned the declaration of war. The 
truth is, however, that each rival nationality inherited the 
liabilities contracted in the past. The French Had been 
accustomed for more than two hundred years to meddle 
directly in (Germany and find there allies, either against 
Austria, Prussia, or England ; and the habit of centuries 
had been more than confirmed by the colossal raids, 
victories, and annexations of Napoleon L A Germany 
which should escape from French control and reverse, by 
its own energetic action the policy of Henri IV., Bichelieu, 
Louis XIV., his degenerate grandson, Louis XY., and of 
the great Napoleon himself, was an affront to French 
pride, and could not be patiently endured. The opposing 
forces which had grown up were so strong that the wit of 
man was unable to keep them asunder ; and all the control 
over the issue left to kings and statesmen was restricted to 
the fabrication of means wherewith to deliver or sustain 
the shock, and the choice of the hour, if such choice were 

To that end the adversaries had, indeed, applied them- 
selves after the last French failure to obtain any material 
compensation, not even what M. Bouher called such a ra^ 
of territory as Luxemburg. Thenceforth, keeping an eye 
on Prussia, the French Government sought to gain over 
Austria and Italy, and form a defensive alliance which, at 
the fitting moment, might be converted into an offensive 
alliance strong enough to prevent the accomplishment of 
German unity, win campaigns, and enable each confederate 
to grasp the reward which he desired. Carried on during 
more than two years, the negotiations never got beyond a 
kind of vague preliminary understanding which signified 
the willingness of the three Courts to reach a definite, 
formal treaty if they could. But obstacles always arose 


when the vital questions lying at the root of the business 
had to be solved. Italy demanded and Austria was will- 
ing that she should have Borne. To that France stead- 
fastly demurred, even down to the last moment, as will 
presently be seen. Austria also, besides being unready, in 
a military sense, was visited by the chronic fear that, if 
she plunged into war against Germany, Bussia would at 
once break into her provinces from Lithuania and the 
Polish Quadrilateral, and settle the heavy account opened 
when Prince Schwarzenberg displayed his " immense in- 
gratitude " during the Crimean war. Nor was the Court 
of Vienna exempt from apprehensions growing out of the 
possible, even probable conduct of haK-reconciled Hungary. 
Count von Beust also deluded himself with the notion that 
the Prussian treaties with the South German States were 
mere "rags of paper,'* and nourished the fond belief, 
except when he had a lucid interval, that the South German 
people would not fight for the Fatherland. Waiting on 
Providence, the would-be confederates, at the same time, 
counted on the fortune of war, arguing that France was 
certain to win at first, and that one victory under the tri- 
colour would bring the inchoate alliance instantly to 
maturity, and the armies it controlled into the field. Based 
on such conjectural foundations, and opposed by such 
solid obstacles, the grand design was doomed to fail ; in- 
deed it never got nearer to completion than an exchange 
of letters by the Sovereigns; grounded on the very eve, 
and went to pieces on the day of battle. 

Diverted from Luxemburg, the French Government did 
not relax its efforts to pave the way for the annexation of 
Belgium. During the spring and summer of 1869 a 
successful effort was made to secure political, commercial, 
and strategic advantages by obtaining a certain control 
over the Belgian railways, notably the line which runs 


from Luxemburg to Liege, and tlience to the North Sea 
ports. These proceedings, of course, did not escape notice 
at Berlin, where the ends in view were perfectly appreciated ; 
but they form only a petty incident in the great struggle, 
and can only be mentioned with brevity in order to indicate 
its growth. It may be stated here that, in 1873, the 
German Chancellor reversed the process, and secured for 
his GK>yemment the control of the Luxeqiburg lines. 
Another railway question which cropped up in May, 1870, 
was the famous railway which, by means of an ingenious 
tunnel within the Alps near St. Grothard, placed Germany 
in direct communication with Italy through neutral terri- 
tory. Count von Bismarck openly said it was a Prussian 
interest, and the Northern Confederation paid a part of 
the cost, which aroused indignation in France. At one 
moment it seemed possible that this enterprise would 
serve as a casua heUi ; but the French Government, after 
careful deliberation, decided, in June, 1870, that thej 
could not reasonably oppose the project, although it 
certainly was regarded at the Foreign Office in Paris as a 
further proof of German antagonism, and a sort of bribe 
tendered to Italy. Since the beginning of the year France 
had been in the enjoyment of certain Liberal concessions 
made by the Emperor, and confirmed, in May, by the 
famous " pl^iscite,*' which gave him a majority of more 
than five millions. Now, although the Emperor's reflec- 
tions on this triumphant result of an appeal to universal 
suffrage were embittered by the knowledge that large 
numbers of soldiers had helped to swell the million and a 
half of Frenchmen who voted "No," still the Foreign 
Minister and his agents, according to M. Ollivier, were so 
elated that they exclaimed with pride, "Henceforth, all 
negotiations are easy to the Government,*' since the world 
thoroughly understood that, for France, peace would never 


mean " complaisance or effacement." Yet Prince Napoleon, 
in his brief sketch of these critical months, says plainly 
that the Government conceraed itself less with foreseeing 
the political complications which might lead up to war, 
than with the best mode of proceeding when war arriyed. 
So true is this, that a General was sent to Vienna to dis- 
cuss the bases of a campaign with the Austrian War 
Office. But in the spring of 1870 fortune seemed to smile 
on official France ; and on the last day of June M. Ollivier, 
instructed by the Foreign Minister, considered himself 
authorized to boast before the admiring Deputies that the 
peace of Europe had never been less in danger than it was 
at the moment when he delivered his optimistic declaration. 
In England, also, the Foreign Secretary could not discern 
" a cloud in the sky." 

The Hohenzollem Gandidcdure, 
One week later, not only M. Ollivier and Lord Granville, 
but Europe, nay, the whole world, saw plainly enough the 
signs and portents of discord and convulsion. On the 3rd 
of July the Due de Gramont learned from the French 
Minister at Madrid that Prince Leopold of Hohenzollem- 
Sigmaringen, with his own full consent, had been selected 
as a candidate for the vacant throne of Spain, and that, at 
no distant date, the Cortes would be formally requested to 
elect him. The French Government quivered with indig- 
nation, and the political atmosphere of Paris became hot 
with rage. Not that the former were unfamiliar with the 
suggestion. It had been made in 1869, considered, and 
apparently abandoned. Indeed, the Emperor himself had, 
at one time, when he failed to obtain the Ehenish pro- 
vinces, proposed that they should be formed into a State 
to be ruled by the King of Saxony, and at another, that 


the Soyereign sHould be the Hereditary Prince of Hohen- 
zoUem-Sigmaringen ; the very Prince put forward by 
Marshal Prim. He had been grievously hampered and 
perplexed in the choice of a Sovereign of Spain by some 
Powers, especially by France; but now the Imperial 
Government turned the whole tide of its resentment, not 
upon Madrid, but Berlin, which, it was assumed, aimed at 
establishing an enemy to France beyond the Pyrenees. 
Explanations were demanded directly from the Prussian 
Government, but M. Le Sourd, the charge d'affaires, cotdd 
extract no other answer than this — ^that the Prussian 
GK>vemment knew nothing about the matter. The Due 
de Gramont, who had succeeded Lavalette, in May, as 
Minister for Foreign Affairs, regarded the statement as a 
subterfuge, and forthwith determined to fasten on the 
King a responsibility which he could not fasten on the 
Government. The Due de Gramont was not a wise coun- 
sellor ; he was deep in negotiations having for their object 
an offensive and defensive alliance against Prussia, and 
he was hardly less moved by a noisy external opinion 
than by his own political passions. He ordered M. Bene- 
detti, who had only just sought repose at Wildbad, to 
betake himself at once to Ems, whither King William, 
according to custom, had repaired to di-ink the waters. 
The French Ambassador reached the pleasant village on 
the Lahn late at night on the 8th of July, and the next 
day began a series of interviews with the King, which 
take rank among the most curious examples of diplomacy 
recorded in history. 

Before the ambassador could commence his singular 
task, an event had occurred in Paris which seemed to 
render a war unavoidable. The politicians of the French 
capital had become feverish with excitement. Not only 
did a species of delirium afiUct the immediate advisers of 


the Emperor, but the band of expectantiB, who, more 
ardent Imperialists than he was, still believed that nothing 
could withstand the French army ; while the opposition, 
loving France not less, but what thej called liberty more, 
were eager to take advantage of an incident which seemed 
likely to throw discredit on the Bonapartea. Wisdom 
would have prevented, but party tactics demanded a move- 
ment in the Chamber which took the innocent-looking 
form of an inquiry. The Government dreaded, yet could 
not evade, the ordeal, and M. Cochery put his question on 
the 6th of July. Had the Due de Gramont been a clever 
Minister, or had he represented a Government strongly 
rooted in the national respect and affection, he would have 
been able to deliver a colourless response, if be could not 
have based a refusal to answer upon public grounds. The 
truth is, he was carried off his feet by the sudden storm 
which raged through the journals and society, and it may 
be surmised that, even then, despite the plebiscite, fears 
for the stability of the dynasty had no small share in 
determining his conduct. Yet, it must be stated, that he 
was only one of the Council of Ministers who sanctioned 
the use of language which read, and still reads, like an in- 
direct declaration of war. After expressing sympathy with 
Spain, and asserting, what was not true, that the Imperial 
Government had observed a strict neutrality with regard 
to the several candidates for the crown, he struck a note 
of defiance : " We do not believe," he exclaimed, " that 
respect for the rights of a neighbouring people obliges us to 
endure that a foreign State, by placing one of its princes 
on the throne of Charles Y., should be able to derange, to 
our injury, the balance of power in Europe, and to imperil 
the interests and honour of France." The pacific sentences 
uttered by M. Ollivier on this memorable occasion were 
forgotten ; the trumpet-blast of the Due de Gramont rang 


through the world, and still rings in the memory. Prussia 
was not named by the Minister, bnt eyeryone beyond the 
Bhine knew who was meant by the " German people," 
and a ** foreign Power ; " while, as Benedetti has stated in 
a private despatch to Gramont, the King deeply felt it as 
a " provocation." 

Not the least impressive characteristic of these proceed- 
ings is the hot haste in which they hurried along. M. 
Benedetti neither in that respect nor in the swiftness and 
doggedness which he imparted to the negotiations, is to 
blame. The impulse and the orders came from Paris ; he 
somewhat tempered the first, but he obeyed the second 
with zeal, and, without overstepping the limits of propriety 
in the form, he did not spare the King in the substance of 
his demands. Nor, in the first instance, were they other 
than those permitted by diplomatic precedent ; afterwards 
they certainly exceeded these limits. The first was that 
the King himself should press Prince Leopold to withdraw 
his consent : indeed, direct him so to do. The answer was 
that, as King, he had nothing to do with the business ; 
that as head of the HohenzoUem family he had been con* 
suited, and had not encouraged or opposed the wish of the 
Prince to accept the proffered crown ; that he would still 
leave him entire freedom to act as he pleased, but that his 
Majesty would communicate with Prince Antoine, the 
father of Prince Leopold, and leiirn his opinion. With 
this reply, unable to resist the plea for delay, the ambassa- 
dor had perforce to be content. Not so the Lnperial 
Government. The Due de Gramont sent telegram on 
telegram to Ems, urging Benedetti to transmit an explicit 
answer from the King, saying that he had ordered Prince 
Leopold to give up the project, and alleging, as a reason 
for haste, that the French could not wait longer, since 
Prussia might anticipate them by calling out the army. 


The ambassador, to check this hurry, prudently warned 
his principals, saying, that if they ostentatiously prepared 
for war, then the calamity would be inevitable. " If the 
King," wrote De Gramont, on the 10th of July, " will not 
advise the Prince to renounce his design — ^well, it is war at 
once, and in a few days we shall be on the Ehine." And 
so on from hour to hour. A little wearied, perhaps, by 
the pertinacity of the ambassador, and nettled by the 
attempt to fix on him the responsibility for the Spanish 
scheme, the King at length said that he looked every 
moment for an answer from Sigmaringen, which he would 
transmit without delay. It is impossible, in a few sentences, 
to give the least idea of the terrier-like obstinacy displayed 
by M. Benedetti in attacking the King. Indeed, it grew to 
be almost a persecution, so thoroughly did he obey his im- 
portunate instructions. At length the King was able to 
say that Prince Antoine's answer would arrive on the 13th, 
and the ambassador felt sure of a qualified success, inas- 
much as he would obtain the Prince's renunciation, 
Eanctioned by Eang William. But, while he was writing 
his despatch, a new source of vexation sprang up in Paris 
— the Spanish Ambassador, Senor Olozaga, announced to 
the Due de Gramont the fact that Prince Antoine, on be- 
half of his son, had notified at Madrid the withdrawal of 
his pretensions to the crown. It was reasonably assumed 
that, having attained the object ostensibly sought, the 
French Government would be well content with a diplo- 
matic victory so decisive, and would allow M. Benedetti to 
rest once more at Wildbad. He himself held stoutly that 
the '' satisfaction *' accorded to the wounded interests and 
honour of France was not insufficient. The Emperor and 
the Due de Gramont thought otherwise, because, as yet, no 
positive defeat had been inflicted, personally, upon King 
William. The Foreign Minister, therefore, obeying precise 


instructions from St. Cloud, directed Benedetti to see the 
King at once, and demand from liim a plain declaration 
that he would not, at any future time, sanction any similar 
proposal coming from Prince Leopold. The Due de G-ra- 
mont's mind was so constructed that, at least a year after- 
wards, he did not regard this demand as an ultimatum ! 
Tet how could the King, and still more Bismarck, take it 
in any other light ? Early on the 13th the King, who saw 
the ambassador in the public garden, advanced to meet 
him, and it was there that he refused, point blank, Louis 
Napoleon's preposterous and uncalled-for request, saying 
that he neither could nor would bind himself in an engage- 
ment without limit of time, and appl3ring to every case; 
but that he should reserve his right to act according to 
circumstances. King William brought this interview to a 
speedy close, and M. Benedetti saw him no more except at 
the railway station when he started for Coblenz. Per- 
sistency had reached and stepped over the limits of the 
endurable, and King William could not do more than send 
an aide-de-camp with a courteous message, giving M. 
Benedetti authority to say officially that Prince Leopold's 
recent resolution had his Majesty's approval. During the 
day the ambassador repeated, unsuccessfully, his request 
for another audience ; and this dramatic episode ended on 
the 18th with the departure of the King, who had pushed 
courtesy to its utmost bounds. 

During that eventful 18th of July Count Bismarck, 
recently arrived in Berlin from Pomerania, had seen and 
had spoken to Lord Augustus Loftus in language which 
plainly showed how steadfastly he kept his grip on the real 
question, which was that France sought to gain an advant- 
age over ''Prussia," as some kind of compensation for 
Koniggratz. The Due de Gramont also conversed with 
Lord Lyons in Paris, and induced him to set in motion 


Lord Granville, from whose ingenious brain came forth a 
plausible compromise wholly unsuitable to the exigency, 
and promptly rejected at Berlin, but having an air of fair- 
ness which made it look well in the pages of a Blue Book. 
It was a last efEort on the part of diplomacy, and served 
well enough to represent statesmanship as it was under- 
stood by the Cabinet to which Lord Granville belonged. 
On the evening of that day Count Bismarck entertained at 
dinner General von Moltke and General von Boon; and 
the host read aloud to them a telegram from Ems, giving 
an account of what had occurred, and the royal authority 
to make the story public. " Both Generals," writes Dr. 
Moritz Busch, "regarded the situation as still peaceful. 
The Chancellor observed — that would depend a good deal 
upon the tone and contents of the publication he had just 
been authorized to make. Li the presence of his two 
guests he then put together some extracts from the tele- 
gram, which were forthwith despatched to all the Prussian 
Legations abroad, and to the Berlin newspapers in the 
following form : — ' Telegram from Ems, July 13th, 1870. 
When the intelligence of the Hereditary Prince of Hohen- 
zollem's renunciation was communicated by the Spanish 
to the French Government, the French Ambassador de- 
manded of His Majesty the King, at Ems, that the latter 
should authorize him to telegraph to Paris that His 
Majesty would pledge himself for all time to come never 
again to give his consent, should the HohenzoUerns hark 
back to their candidature. Upon this His Majesty re- 
fused to receive the French Ambassador again, and sent 
the aide-de-camp in attendance to tell him that His 
Majesty had nothing further to communicate to the 
Ambassador.' " 

Substantially, it was the grotesque pile of misrepresenta- 


tion built up on this blunt telegram — ^M. Benedetti read 
it next morning in the ** Cologne Ghkzette/* and took no 
exception whatever to the brief and exact narrative it con- 
tained — which set the Parisians on fire. Travestied in many 
wajs by calculating politicians, as well as gossips, the 
message became a '' Note," or a ** despatch/' imputing the 
extreme of intentional rudeness to King William, and im- 
posing the depth of humiliation, publicly inflicted, tipon 
France through her representative, who, all the time, was 
not only unconscious of any insult, but emphatic in his 
acknowledgments of the King's courtesy, kindness, and 
patience. Probably Count Bismarck wrote his telegram 
for Germany, but its effect in satisfying the Fatherland, 
was not greater than its influence upon the fiery French, 
who never read the text until months afterwards, and in 
July, 1870, were set a-flame by the distorted versions freely 
supplied by rumour's forked tongue. 


The French Oovemment cmd the Chamber, 
^ War was now plainly inevitable, yet the decisive word 
still rested with the Imperial Government. In Paris there 
were two currents running strongly in opposite ways, and, 
for a moment, it seemed possible that the tide which made 
for peace would overpower the surging stream which drove 
onwards towards war. More than one-half the Ministry 
believed, and some, M. OUivier for one, said that the retreat 
of Prince Leopold, with the consent of the King, a great 
diplomatic victory for France, was enough, and had, in- 
deed, brought the quarrel to an end. At midday, on the 
13th, M. i^obert Mitchell, meeting M. Paul de Cassagnac, 
said, '' I have just left OUivier, and, thank God, peace is 
secured." " My father," was the reply, '* has just quitted 
the Emperor ; war is resolved on." The statement was not 


then exact, but it may be accepted as a forecast For, in 
truth, it was only at noon the next day that the Ministers 
assembled in council at the Tuileries to answer the momen- 
tous question which so profoundly agitated their minds. 
They sat six hours; they were divided in opinion; yet, 
although Marshal Lebceuf was authorized to call ont the 
reserves — he had threatened to resign unless that were 
done — the Ministers separated with the understanding that 
a peaceful line of action should be adopted, based on a 
demand for a Congress of the Powers to sanction the prin« 
dple that no member of any reigning house should accept 
a foreign throne. The Due de G-ramont's brief account of 
this notable Council shows that the hankering after war 
was powerful therein ; ^since he says that ** the Oovemment 
decided, not without hesitation, but influenced by a love of 
peace, to propose this pacific solution." But all, or some 
of the Ministers, and still more the Emperor, stood in dread 
of two things: they were alarmed lest the ''dynasty" 
should be injured by a course which bore the semblance of 
a forced retreat, and they could not rely with confidence 
on the sober opinion of the Chambers. The Court war- 
party operated upon the Senators and Deputies through 
M. Clement Duvemois, a schemer, and M. Jerome David, 
by birth and training a fanatical Bonapartist, the second 
accentuating the questions of the first, and giving to his 
own language a substance which made retreat almost im- 
possible. Both these men had a double object. They 
intended to extort a declaration of war and, at the same 
time, expel Emile OUivier, together with what they called 
the Parliamentary element, from the Ministry. The ener- 
getic, aggressive and relentless group were really the 
mouthpieces of the Emperor and Empress, and in a less 
d^pree of M. Bouher, who had been deposed by the new 
Imperial constitution, and of the Due de Gramont, who all 



thioagh the biuiiiess desuned to secure a proloiigation of 
peace, solelj because it would gixe him time to ripen the 
projects of aHiauoe with Aastria and Italy, and also to 
make war, lest '* la Pmsse," aware of his design, should 
choose her own hoar for battle. It so chanced that Marshal 
Leboeuf , after despatching the orders calling out the re- 
serves, reoeiTed a note from the Emperor, which, he- sajs, 
seemed to suggest a regret at the decision adopted b j the 
Council; and thinking, innocent man, that some constitu- 
tional scruples had sprung up in the Imperial mind, the 
Marshal begged that the Ministers might be summoned 
once more. That night they met again, talked for an hour, 
and had nearly resolved that the mobilization of the army 
should be deferred, when papers w^fe placed in the hands 
of the Due de Gramont. The exact contents of these 
documents have not been described, but they seemed to 
have contained some report of language held by Count 
Bismarck which exasperated the war party ; and, in an 
instant, the Coundl resolved on war. That same night, 
M. fiobert Mitchell, walking in the garden of the Foreign 
Office, asked M. GUivier why he did not resign ? The 
Minister gave a host of plausible reasons having no real 
weight; addingthese prophetic words: " Whatever happens, 
I am sacrificed ; for the war will sweep away the regime to 
which I have attached my name. If we are beaten, Qod 
protect France! If we are victorious, God protect our 
Uberties ! " 

So that, having a clear perception of the future, this 
Minister, at least, met the Chambers on the morrow. The 
exciting events of the past week, imperfectly understood 
and carelessly or purposely misrepresented, had aroused a 
tempest of passion in Paris and France, which, by its 
violence and uproar, overpowered, but could not whoUy 
silence, the voices of sagacity and sober judgment. The 


Senate was unanimous for war. In the Chamber the 
opposition waged courageously a desperate contest, so 
desperate from the outset, that even M. Thiers, perhaps 
because he told unpleasant truths, could not command an 
unbroken hearing, while M. Gambetta only secured one by 
making a rare display of forensic tact, basing himself on 
Parliamentary ground, and tempering his appeal for "more 
light " with evidences of his indisputable patriotism. The 
Due de Gramont ^voured the Senators with a version of 
the facts, which was neither complete nor candid. M. 
Emile Ollivier allowed an unhappy phrase to escape from 
his lips — ^he went into the war "d ecevr leger" A com- 
mittee was appointed to inspect the diplomatic documents 
on which the Court relied ; it was easily satisfied, and late 
in the night, sustained by a large majority, the policy of 
the Government was amply sanctioned. 

Perhaps a sentence spoken by M. Guyot Montpayroux 
best illustrates the predominant feeling. "Prussia," he 
said, " has forgotten the France of Jena, and the fact must 
be recalled to her memory." Thus was war declared by 
these infuriated legislators on the night of July 15th. M. 
Thiers, who desired a war with Prussia "at the proper 
time," has left on record his judgment that the hour then 
selected was " detestably ill-chosen." Yet even he and M. 
Gambetta were both anxious that " satisfaction " should be 
obtained for Sadowa ; while the thought which animated 
the Court is admirably expressed in the phrase imputed to 
the Empress who, pointing to the Prince Imperial, said, 
" This child will never reign unless we repair the misfor- 
tunes of Sadowa." Such was the ceaseless refrain. The 
word haunted French imaginations incessantly, and it was 
the pivot on which the Imperial policy revolved, and it 
exercised a spell scarcely less powerful and disastrous upon 
Monarchists like M. Thiers, and Bepublicans like Gambetta 


and Jules Favre. Still, it may be said that France was 
divided in opinion. Consulted through the Prefects, onlj 
sixteen departments were for war ; no fewer than thirty-four 
were adyerse, and the remainder could not be said to hold 
with the one or the other. Nor should it be overlooked 
that these estimates of popidar feeling were transmitted by 
functionaries who have always a wish to please the superior 
Powers. Germany, on the other hand, was united as it 
had never been since 1813. King William was applauded 
everywhere. When he reached Berlin on the evening of 
the 15th, he was met at the railway station by the Crown 
Prince, Count von Bismarck, General von Moltke, and 
General von Boon. There the decision was formally taken 
to accept the challenge, the fact was repeated to the crowd 
who had assembled, and whose shouts were loud, deep, and 
prolonged ; and that same night went forth the brief tele- 
graphic orders which from one centre touched a thousand 
springs, and called into instant being an army, perfectly 
organized, equipped, trained and supplied. So that when 
Baron Wimpfen, a secretary of legation, entered Berlin on 
the 19th of July, and handed to M. Le Sourd the French 
declaration of war — the sole official document on the sub- 
ject received by Prussia, as Yon Moltke bluntly remarks — 
that work had already begun which finished in little moro 
than a fortnight, enabled the King to break into Fnuice at 
the head of more than three hundred thousand soldiers. 

Only one word more need be said on this subject — ^the 
causes of the war. Clearing away the diplomatic mist 
which hides the realities, the student will discover two 

deadly opposites ; on onft aidft the determinfttion ^f fra.noA 

affairs^andeven of prescribin^f the form or fftnaB yfl^^^* 
the national aggregate shoujd AftSWiftfe; on the othec 
fixed resolve of the Q^maUupoaide that the French sh ould 


no longer dictate or pretend to dictate bevond the Rhine . 
that an end should t^ p"t. tn fha pn licy of oeekii^ politica l 
profits by fomenting the spirit of discord in the pett y 
^nnan Courts ; and that, if possible, by dint ^ " Kraft 
nnd Muth/' Germany should secure palpable safeguards 
against French invasions, and resume possession of the 
strongholds and dependent territories which were acquired, 
in times of adversity and disunion, by Louis XIY. Thus, 
the causes of war were deeply rooted in essential facts. 
The moment to be chosen, if it can be said to have been 
chosen, was for statesmen to decide. The Imperial Gk>yem- 
ment, down to the last hour, sought to form a combination 
adverse to Prussia, intending to wage war at its own time. 
Prussia refused to be made the victim of a triple alliance, 
and taking a fair advantage of the imperious conduct of the 
French Court, seized the golden opportunity, promptly 
answered the declaration of war, and struck dovni the 
French Empire before its hesitating and unprepared allies 
could moTC a finger to avert a defeat which neither at« 
tempted, nor dar6d attempt to repair. Austria, the unready, 
stood in fear of Eussia : Italy, the ambitious, demanded 
the right to enter Bome. " We can grant nothing of the 
kind,*' said the over-confident Due de Gramont, so late as 
July 30. "If Italy will not march," he exclaimed, " let her 
sit still." Abundant evidence exists to prove that war 
between France and Germany was solely a question of 
time, and Prussia cannot be blamed justly for selecting or 
seizing the hour most suitable to her and least suitable to 
her adversaries. The Due de Gramont asserts that neither 
the Emperor nor the Government nor France, desired war 
— certainly not just then ; but they intended to make war 
at a time and under conditions chosen by themselves. He 
admits that it was the duty of the Imperial Government to 
evade a war, but also prepare for a war as much as possible; 


and, failing to do the former, he farther confessed many 
months afterwards, that too much confidence in the army 
and in its untested military virtues, and the dazzling 
splendour of a glorious past dragged France, its Goyem- 
ment and its representatives, into an unequal struggle. 
" We believed ourselves too strong to stoop," he says, 
f* and we knew not how to resist the system of provocations 
so ably combined and directed by the Cabinet of Berlin." 
A frank confession, especially from the pen of a statesman 
who was himself endeavouring to combine a system of 
alliances, and who was anticipated by the Power against 
whom his plans were directed. M. Prevost Paradol, who 
in a moment of weakness had accepted from the Emperor 
the post of Minister at Washington, saw more clearly into 
the future than the Due de Gramont and some of his col- 
leagues. On the very afternoon of the day when the un- 
happy journalist killed himself, he saw a countryman, the 
Oomte d'H^risson, and his language to the young man 
showed how deeply he was moved, and with what sagacity 
he estimated the near future. In his opinion, expressed on 
the 10th of July, war was even then certain, because not 
only " la Prusse '* desired war, but because, as he said, 
" The Empire requires war, wishes for it, and will wage it." 
The young Frenchmen to whom he spoke made light of 
the peril, and said he should like to travel in Germany, and 
study in the libraries of her conquered cities. But the 
Minister checked his natural exultation, saying, " You will 
not go to Germany, you will be crushed in France. Believe 
me, I know the Prussians. We have nothing whatever 
that is needed to strive with them. We have neither 
generals, men, nor materiel. We shall be ground to powder. 
ifau8 serans hroyes. Before six months are over there will 
be a Revolution in France, and the Empire will be at an 
end.^' Mourning over the error he made in laying down 


his sharp critical pen to put on a diplomatic uniform, and 
maddened by the retrospect and prospect, Paradol, a few 
hours after uttering his predictions, escaped from unendur- 
able misery by a pistol-shot. It was like an omen oi the 
coming catastrophe. 



Oerman Mobilization, 

THE great contest, thus precipitated by the formal de- 
fiance which Baron Wimpfen bore from Paris to 
Berlin, excited deep emotion all over the world. The hour 
had at length struck which was to usher in the deadly 
struggle between France and Germany. Long foreseen^ 
the dread shock, like all grave calamities, came never- 
theless as a surprise, even upon reflective minds. States- 
men and soldiers who looked on, while they shared in the 
natural feelings aroused by so tremendous a drama, were 
also the privileged witnesses of two instructive experiments 
on a grand scale — ^the processes whereby mighty armies 
are brought into the field, and the methods by means of 
which they are conducted to defeat or victory. The German 
plan of forming an Army was new in regard to the extent 
and completeness with which it had been carried out. How 
would it work when put to the ultimate test ? Dating only 
from 1867, the French scheme of organization, a halting 
Gullic adaptation of Prussian principles, modified by French 
traditions, and still further by the political exigencies be- 
setting an Imperial djmasty, having little root in the 
nation, besides being new and rickety, was in an early 
stage of development; it may be said to have been ad- 


olescent, not mature. No greater contrast was ever pre- 
sented by two parallel series of human actions than that 
supplied by the irregular, confused, and uncertain working 
of the Imperial arrangement of forming an Army and 
setting it in motion for active service, and the smoothness^ 
celerity, and punctuality which marked the German " mo- 
bilization." The reason is — first, that the system on which 
the German Army was built up from the foundations was 
sound in every part^ and that the plan which had been 
designed for the purpose of pladng a maximum force 
under arms in a given time, originaUy comprehensive, had 
been corrected from day to day, and brought down to the 
last moment. For example, whenever a branch or seciaon 
of a railway line was opened for traffic, the entire series of 
time-tables, if need be, were so altered as to include the 
new fadlity for transport. ^ The labour and attention be- 
stowed on this vital condition was also expended methodic- 
ally upwr^all the others down to the most minute detail. 
Thus, the German stafE maps of 'France, especially east of 
Paris, actually laid down roads which in July, 1870, had 
not yet been marked upon any map issued by the French 
War Office. The central departments, in Berlin, exercised 
a wide and searching supervision ; but they did not Meddle 
with the local military authorities who, having large dis- 
cretionary powers, iio sooner received a brief and simple 
order than they set to work and produced, at a fixed time, 
the result desired. 

When King William arrived in Berlin, on the evening 
of July 15, the orders already prepared by General von 
Moltke received at once the royal sanction, and were trans- 
mitted without delay to the officers commanding the several 
Army Corps. Their special work, in case of need, had 
been accurately defined ; and thus, by regular stages, the 
Corps gradually, but swiftly, was developed into its full 


proportions, and ready, as a finished product, to start for 
the frontier. The reserves and, if needed, the landwehr 
men filled out the battalions, squadrons, and batteries to 
the fixed strength ; and as thej found in the local depots 
arms, clothing, and equipments, no time was lost. Horses 
were bought, called in, or requisitioned, and transport was 
obtained. As all the wants of a complete Corps had been 
ascertained and provided beforehand, so they came when 
demanded. At the critical moment the supreme directing 
head, relieved altogether from the distracting duty of 
settling questions of detail, had ample time to consider the 
broad and absorbing business problems which should and 
did occupy the days and nights of a leader of armies. The 
composition of the North German troops, that is, those 
under the immediate control of King William, occasioned 
no anxiety ; and there was only a brief period of doubt in 
Bavaria, where a strong minority had not so much French 
and Austrian sympathies, as inveterate Prussian anti- 
pathies. They were promptly suppressed by the popular 
voice and the loyalty of the King. Hesse, Wurtemberg, 
and Baden responded so heartily to the calls of patriotism 
that in more than one locality the landwehr battalions far 
exceeded their normal numerical strength, that is, more 
men than were summoned presented themselves at the 
dep6ts. The whole operation of bringing a great Army 
from a peace to a war footing, in absolute readiness, within 
the short period of eighteen days, to meet an adversary on 
his own soil, was conducted with unparalleled order and 
quickness. The business done included, of course, the 
transport of men, guns, horses, carriage, by railway chiefly, 
from all parts of the country to the Bhine and the Moselle ; 
and the astonishing fact is that plans devised and adopted 
long beforehand should have been executed to the letter^ 
and that more than three hundred thousand combatants-* 


artillery, borse, infantry, in complete fighting trim, backed 
up by enormous trains — should have been brought to 
specified places on- specified days, almost exactly in fulfil- 
ment of a scheme reasoned out and drawn up two years 
before. The French abruptly declared war ; the challenge 
was accepted ; the orders went forth, and *' thereupon 
united Germany stood to arms," to use the words of 
Marshal von Moltke. It is a proud boast, but one amply 
justified by indisputable facts. 

I^ench Mobilizaiian. 
How differently was the precious time employed on the 
other side of the Ehine. When the Imperial Q-ovemment 
rushed headlong into war, they actually possessed only one 
formed Corps d'Arm^e, the 2nd, stationed in the camp of 
Chalons, and commanded by General Frossard. Yet even 
this solitary body was, as he confesses, wanting in essential 
equipments when it was hurriedly transported to St. Avoid, 
not far from Saarlouis, on the Bhenish Prussian frontier. 
Not only had all the other Corps to be made out of garrison 
troops, but the entire staff had to be provided in haste. 
Marshal Niel, an able soldier, and the Emperor, had 
studied, at least, some of Baron Stoffel's &,mous reports on 
the Gherman Army, and had endeavoured to profit by 
them ; but the Marshal died, the Corps L^gislatif was in- 
tractable, favouritism ruled in the Court, the Emperor 
suffered from a wearing internal disease, and the tone of 
the Army was one not instinct with the spirit of self-sacri- 
ficing obedience. In time it is possible that the glaring 
defects of the Imperial military mechanism might have 
been removed, and possible, also, that the moral and disci- 
pline of the officers and men might have been raised. 
Barely probable, since Marshal Lebceuf believed that the 


Army was in a state of perfect readiness, not merely to de- 
fend France, but to dash over the Rhine into South Ger- 
many. His illusion was only destroyed when the fatal test 
was applied. Nominally, the French Army was formidable 
in numbers ; but not being based on the territorial system, 
which includes all the men liable to service in one Corps, 
whether they ore with the colours or in the reserve, and 
also forms the supplementary landwehr into local division|^, 
the French War Office could not rapidly raise the regim^ts 
to the normal strength. For a sufficient reason. A peasant 
residing in Provence might be summoned to join a regiment 
quartered in Brittany, or a workman employed in Bordeaux 
called up to the Pas de Calais. When he arrived he might 
find that the regiment had marched to Alsace or Lo]p*aine. 
During the first fortnight after the declaration of war 
thousands of reserve men were travelling to and fro over 
France in search of their comrades. Another evil waerthat 
some Corps in course of formation were split into fragments-^ 
separated from each other by many score miles. Nearly 
the whole series of Corps, numbered from One to Seven, 
were imperfectly supplied with a soldier's needments ; and 
what is more astonishing, the frontier arsenals and depots 
were sadly deficient in supplies, so that constant applica- 
tions were made to Paris for the commonest necessaries. 
There were no departmental or even provincial storehouses,, 
but the materials essential for war were piled up in three 
or four places, such as Paris and Versailles, Yemen and 
Chateauroux. In short, the Minister of War, who said and 
believed that he was supremely ready, found that, in &ict, 
he was compelled almost to improvise a fighting Army in 
the face of an enemy who, in perfect order, was advancing 
with the measured, compact, and irresistible force of a tidal 

The plan followed was exactly the reverse of the German 


method. East of the Ehine no Corps was moyed to the 
frontier, until it was complete in every respect, except the 
second line of trains ; and consequently, from the outset, it 
had a maximum force prepared for battle. There were 
some slight exceptions to the rule, but they were imposed 
by circumstances, served a real purpose, and disappeared 
when the momentary emergency they were adapted to meet 
had been satisfied. West of the Ehine, not one solitary 
Corps took its assigned place in a perfect state for action. 
All the battalions of infantry, and of course the regiments, 
were hundreds short of their proper strength. Before a 
shot had been fired. General de Pailly, at Bitsche, was 
obliged to send a demand for coin to pay the troops, adding 
notes won't pass — " les billets n'ont point cours." General 
Frossard, at St. Avoid, reported that enormous packages of 
useless maps had been sent him — maps of Germany — and 
that he had not a single map of the French frontier. 
Neither Strasburg, Metz, Toul, Verdun, Thionville, nor 
Mezieres, possessed stores of articles — such as food, equip- 
ments, and carriage — which were imperatively required. 
The Intendants, recently appointed to special posts, be- 
sieged the War Office in Paris, to relieve them from their 
embarrassments — ^they had nothing on the spot. The 
complaints wec^^notjdie. As early as the 26th of July, 
the troops about Metz were living on the reserve of 
biscuits ; there were sent only thirty-eight additional bakers 
to Metz for 120,000 men, and even these few practitioners 
were sadly in want of ovens. ** I observe that the Army 
stands in need of biscuit and bread," said the Emperor to 
the Minister of War at the same date. " Could not bread 
be made in Paris, and sent to Metz ? " Marshal Lebceuf , 
a day later, took note of the fact that the detachments 
which came up to the front, sometimes reserve men, some- 
times battalions^ arrived without ammunition and camp 


equipments. Soldiers, functionaries, carts, ovens, pro- 
visions, horses, munitions, harness, all had to be sought at 
the eleventh hour. These facts are recorded in the de- 
spairing telegrams sent from the front to the War Office. 
The very Marshal who had described France as ''archi- 
pr^te," in a transcendent state of readiness for war, an- 
nounced by telegram, on the 28th of July, the lamentable 
fact that he could not move forward for want of biscuit — 
** Je manque de biscuit pour marcher en avant." The 7th 
Corps was to have been formed at Belfort, but its divisions 
could never be assembled. General Michel, on the 21st of 
July, sent to Paris this characteristic telegram : '* Have 
arrived at Belfort," he wrote: "can't find my brigade; 
can't find the General of Division. What shall I do P 
Don't know where my regiments are " — a document prob- 
ably imique in military records. Hardly a week later, that 
is on the 27th, Marshal Leboeuf became anxious respecting 
the organization of this same Corps, and put, through 
Paris, some curious questions to General F^lix Douay, its 
commander. ** How far have you got on with your format 
tions ? Where are your divisions ? " The next day General 
Douay arrived at Belfort, having been assured in Paris by 
his superiors that the place was " abundantly provided " 
with what he would require. After the War, Prince 
Georges Bibesco, a Boumanian in the French Army, at- 
tached to the 7th Corps, published an excellent volume on 
the campaign, and in its pages he describes the "cruel de-» 
ception " which awaited Douay. He writes that, for the 
most part, the troops, had " neither tents, cooking pots, nor 
flannel belts ; neither medical nor veterinary canteens, nor 
medicines, nor forges, nor pickets for the horses — they 
were without hospital attendants, workmen, and train. 
As to the magazines of Belfort — they were empty." In 
the land of centralization General Douay was obliged to 


send a staff and several men to Paris, with umtmcticms to 
explain matters at the War Office, and not leave the capital 
without bringing the articles demanded with them. Other 
examples are needless. It woold be almost impossible to 
understand how it came to pass that the French were 
plunged into war, in Jnlj, 1870, did we not know that the 
military institutions had been n^lected« that the rulers 
relied on old renown, the " glorious past " of the Due de 
Gramont, and that the few men who forced the quarrel to 
a fatal head, knew nothing of the wants of an armj, and 
still less of the necessities and risks of war. 

War Methods Coninuted. 
As the story is unfolded, it will be seen that the same 
marked contrast between the principles and methods 
adopted and practised by the great rivals prevaUed through- 
out. The GTerman Army rested on solid foundations ; the 
work of mobilization was conducted in strict accordance 
with the rules of business ; allowing for the constant 
presence of a certain amount of error, inseparable from 
human actions, it may be said that ** nothing was left to 
chance.'' The French Army was loosely put together ; it 
contained uncertain elements ; was not easily collected, and 
never in f onited bodies ; it was without large as well as 
small essentials; it "lacked finish." And similar defects 
became rapidly manifest in the Imperial plan for the con- 
duct of the war. Here the contrast is flagrant. The 
Emperor Napoleon, who had lived much with soldiers, who 
had been present at great military operations, and had 
studied many campaigns, could not be destitute of what 
the French call *• le flair militaire." He had, also, sonie 
inkling of the political side of warfare ; and in July, 1870, 
he saw that much would depend upon his ability to make 


a dash into South Germany, because, if he were successful, 
eyen for a brief time, Prussia might be deprived of South 
German help, and Austria might enter the field. There 
was no certainty about the calculation, indeed, it was 
almost pure conjecture ; seeing that Count von Beust and 
the Archduke Albert had both warned him that, ** above 
all things," they needed time, and that the former had 
become frightened at the prospect of Hungarian defection, 
and a Russian onfall. Yet it was on this shadowy basis 
that he moved to the frontier the largest available mass of 
incomplete and suddenly organized batteries, squadrons 
and battalions. He and his advisers were possessed with 
a feverish desire to be first in the field; and the Corps 
were assembled near Metz, Strasburg, and Belfort, with 
what was called a reserve at Chalons, on the chance that 
the left might be made to join the right in Alsace, and that 
the whole, except the reserve which was to move up from 
Chalons, could be pushed over the Rhine at Maxau, oppo- 
site Carlesruhe, and led with conquering speed into, the 
country south of the Main. Before he joined the head- 
quarters at Metz, on the 28th of July, the Emperor may 
have suspected, but on his arrival he assuredly found that 
the plan, if ever feasible, had long passed out of the range 
of practical warfare. He reaped nothing but the disad- 
vantages which spring from grossly defective preparation, 
and '' raw haste half-sister to delay." He knew that he 
was commander-in-chief of a relatively weak and ill-found 
Army, and he acquired the certainty at Metz, that, unless 
he were conspicuously victorious, neither Austria nor Italy 
would move a man. 

His mighty antagonist, on the other hand« was advanc- 
ing to the encounter with such large resources, and so 
thoroughly equipped, that no fewer than three Army 
Corps were left behind^ because even the admirably man- 


aged and numerous German railway lines were not able to 
cany them at once to the banks of the Bhine. Moreover, 
General von Moltke, the Chief of the Great Staff, had, in 
1868-69, carefully reasoned out plans, which were designed 
to meet each probable contingency, either a march of the 
French through Belgium, an early irruption into the 
Bhenish provinces, or the identical scheme upon which the 
Emperor founded his hopes ; while, if the French allowed 
the Germans to begin offensive operations on French soil-, 
then the method of conducting the invasion, originally 
adopted, would come into play. The memorandum on 
this great subject, the essential portions of which have 
been published by its author, Yon Moltke, is, for breadth, 
profundity, and insight, one of the most instructive to be 
found in the records of war. This is not the place to deal 
with its general or detailed arguments. For present pur- 
poses, it is sufficient to set forth the main operative idea. 
The contention was, that an army assembled on the Bhine 
between Bastadt and Mainz, and on the Moselle below 
Treves, would be able to operate successfully, either on the 
right bank of the main stream, against the flank of a 
French Army, which sought to invade South Germany; or, 
with equal facility, concentrate on the left bank, and 
march in three great masses throi^h the country between 
the Bh^e and Moselle, upon the French frontier. " Should 
the French make a precipitate_dash into the German 
country towards Mainz, then the Corps collected near that 
fortress would meet them in front, and those on the 
Moselle would threaten their communications or assail 
them in flank. The soundness of the reasoning is indis- 
putable; its application would depend upon the prompt 
concentration of the Armies, and that had been rendered 
certain by careful and rigorously enforced preparations. 
The great Prussian strategist had calculated the move- 


ment of troops and railway trains to a day ; bo that he 
knew exactly what number of men and guns, within a 
given area, he could count upon at successive periods of 
time ; and, of course, he was well aware that the actual use 
to be made of them, after the moment of contact, could 
not be foreseen with precision, but must be adapted to 
circumstances. But he foresaw and prepared for the 
contingency which did arrive. " If," he said, " the French 
desired to make the most of their railways, in order to 
hasten the assembly of all their forces," they would be 
obliged to disembark, or as we now say, '* detrain " them, 
" at Metz and Strasburg, that is, in two principal groups 
separated from each other by the Yosges." And then he 
went on to point out how, assembled 'on the Bhine and 
Moselle, the G-erman Army would occupy what is called 
the " interior lines " between them, and " could turn 
against the one or the other, or even attack both at once, 
if it were strong enough." 

The grounds for these conclusions, succinctly stated* 
were the conformation of the frontier, an angle flanked at 
each side by the neutral states of Switzerland and Luxem- 
burg, restricting the space within which operations could 
be carried on ; the possession of both banks of the Khine 
below Lauterbourg ; the superior facility of mobilization 
secured by the Germans, not only as regards the i^pid 
transition of Corps from a peace to a war footing, but by 
the skilful use of six railway lines running to the Bhine 
and the Moselle ; and, finally, the fact that, fronting south 
between those rivers, the advancing Q^erman Army would be 
directed against an adversary whose line of retreat, at least 
so far as railways were concerned, diverged, in each case, 
td a -flank of any probable front of battle. The railway 
from Strasburg to Nancy traversed the Vosges at Saveme ; 
the railway from Metz to Nancy on one side, and Thion- 


yille on the other, followed the yalley of the Moselle ; and 
as the important connecting branch from Metz to Verdun 
had not been constructed, it follows that the French Army 
in Lorraine had no direct railway line of retreat and supply. 
The railway from Metz to Strasburg, which crossed the 
Yosges by the defile of Bitsche and emei^ed in the lUiine 
valley at Hagenau, was, of course, nearly parallel to the 
German front, except for a short distance west of Bening. 
The frontier went eastward from Sierck, on the Moselle to 
Lauterbourg on the Bhine, and thence southerly to Basle. 
The lull range of the Yosges, starting from the Ballon 
d' Alsace, overlooking the Gkip of Belfort, runs parallel to 
the river, and extends in a northerly direction beyond the 
French boundary, thrusting an irregular mass of uplands 
deep into the Palatinate, ending in the isolated Donners* 
berg. It follows that the main roads out of, as well as 
into, France were to the east and west of this chain, and 
it should be observed that the transverse passes were more 
numerous south than north of Bitsche, and that, practically, 
while detachments could move along the secluded valleys, 
there was no road available for laj-ge bodies and trains 
through the massive block of mountain and forest which 
occupies so considerable a space of the Palatinate. Thus, 
an army moving from Mainz upon Metz would turn the 
obstacle on the westward by Eaiserslautem and Landstuhl ; 
while if Strasburg were the goal, it would march up the 
Bhine valley by Landau, and through the once &.mous 
Lines of the Lauter. If two armies, as really happened in 
1870, advanced simultaneously on both roads, the connec« 
tion between them is maintained by occupying Pirmasens, 
which is the central point on a country road running from 
Landau to Deux Pouts, and another going south-east to 
The influence of this mountain range upon the offensive 


and defensiTe operations of the rival armies will be readily 
understood. The French oould only unite to meet their 
opponents in the Prussian proTinces at or north of Kaisers- 
lantern ; while the Germans, assuming that their adver- 
saries assembled forces in Alsace, as well as in Lorraine, 
would not be in direct communication until their left wing 
had moved through the hill-passes and had emerged in the 
country between the Sarre and Meurthe. 

It has been seen that the available French troops, in- 
cluding several native and national regiments from Algeria, 
had been hurried to the frontier in an imperfect state of 
organization and equipment. There were nominally seven 
Corps d'Arm^ and the Guard ; but of these, two, the 6th 
and 7th, were never united in the face of the enemy. 
Marshal Canrobert, commanding the 6th, was only able to 
bring a portion of nis Corps from Chalons to Metz ; and 
General Douay, the chief of the 7th, had one division at 
Lyons, and another at Colmar, whence it was sent on to 
join the 1st Corps assembling under Marshal MacMahon 
near Strasburg. The principal body, connsting of the 2nd, 
3rd, and 4th Corps, ultimately joined by the greater part 
of the 6th, and the Guard were posted near and north of 
^etz ; while the 5th occupied po6iti<ms on the Saar, and 
formed a sort of link, or weak craitre, between the right 
and left wings. Nothing indicated cohesion in this array, 
which, as we have shown, was adopted on the vain hypo- 
thesis that there would be time to concentrate in Alsace 
for the purpose of anticipating the Germans and crossing 
the Bhine at Maxau. 

, No such error was made on the other side. The G^ermau 
troops were divided into three armies* The First Army, 
consisting of the 7th and 8th Corps, under thr>^teran 
General von Steinmetz, formed the right wing, and moved 
Qouthward ou both banks of the MoseHer^The Second 


Army, composed of the Goard, the 3rd, 4th, and 10th 
Corps, oommanded by Prince Frederick Charles, was the 
central body, haying in rear the 9th and 12th Corps as a 
reserve. They were destined to march on the great roads 
leading from Manheim and Mainz upon Kaiserslautem. 
The Third Army, or left wing, under the Crown Prince, 
was made up of the 5th and 11th and the two Bavarian 
Corps, together with a Wurtemberg and a Baden Divi- 
sion. Each Army had one or more divisions of cavaliy, 
and« of course, the due proportion of guns. By the 31st 
of July, the whole of these troops, except the Baden 
and the Wiirtemberg Divisions, were on the west of 
the Rhine, with foreposts on the Saar, below Saarbruck, 
in the mountains at Pirmasens, and on the roads to the 
Lanter ; the great mass of troops being dose to the Bhine. 
The advantages, in point of concentration, were already 
secured by the German Staff ; the First Army alone, one- 
half at Treves, and the other strung out between the 
Moselle and the Nahe, was in apparent danger ; yet little 
apprehension was felt on that score, because the country 
through which it moved was highly defensible — its right 
was covered by neutral Luxemburg, and part of the Second 
Army was sufficiently forward to protect the left. 

A week earlier, there had been, indeed, a slight perturba- 
tion in Berlin, where the head-quarters still remained. 
By unceasing observation, a careful collation of reports, a 
diligent use of French newspapers, the King's Staff had 
arrived at a tolerably accurate estimate of the strength, 
positions, and internal state of the French Corps. They 
were cognizant of the prevailing disorder, and were welL 
aware that not one Corps had received its full complement 
of reserve men. Arguing that the enemy would not have 
fo 'egone the advantages of mobilization unless he had in 
view some considerable object, such as an irruption into 


the Palatinate, tlie Staff modified the original plan, as it 
affected the Second Armv, and, on the 23rd of July, 
directed the Corps of which it was composed to quit the 
railway trains transporting them on, and not beyond* the 
Bhine. This was purely a measure of precaution, the 
contingency of which had been foreseen ; yet one which 
was needless, as the French had already learned that they 
could not take the offensive in any direction. No ther 
changes were made, and the only result of this modifica- 
tion was that the soldiers had to march further than they 
would have marched, and they probably benefited by the 
exercise. During this period, the bridge at Kehl had been 
broken, the boats and ferries remoTed from the Bhine 
from Lauterbourg to Basle, the railway pontoon bridge at 
Maxau protected, a measure suggested by the presence of 
river gunboats at Strasburg, and ' an unremitting watch 
had been kept on the land frontier by small detachments 
of horse and foot. Not the least surprising fact is that no 
attempt was made by the French to destroy the bridges 
over the Saar at Saarbriick, or penetrate far beyond that 
river on its upper course. On the other hand, parties of 
German horse and foot made several incursions between 
Sierck and Bitsche, and one small party rode as far as into 
Alsace at Niederbronn. It was not until the end of the 
month that large bodies of cavalry were sent to the front 
to begin a career demonstrating afresh, if a demonstration 
is needed, the inestimable services which can be performed 
by that indispensable arm. The German Army had been 
placed in the field in little more than a fortnight, although 
the 1st and 6th Corps were still en route from the fax 
North. The Crown Prince reached Spires on the 30th, 
and the next day, the King, with the Great Staff, left 
Berlin for Mainz. He had restored the "Order of the 
Iron Cross," and had wai-mly expressed his gratitude for 


the unexampled spirit manifested by the whole German 
nation, " reconciled and united as it had never been before." 
Germany might find therein, he said, ** a guarantee that 
the war would Ji^ring her a durable peace, and that the 
seed of blood would yield a blessed harvest of liberty and 

Here it may be stated that a French squadron had 
appeared off the coast of Denmark on the 28th of July, 
but only to disappear with greater promptitude, thereby 
relieving the timid from any apprehension of a descent. 
Large German forces were set free to face westward, and in 
a brief space, not only the French marines and sailors, but 
the ship guns were vehemently required to fight in severe 
battles and defend the capital of France. 



The Conibat at Saarhriich. 

Kma WILLIAM did not reach Mainz until the fore- 
noon of the 2nd of August ; and it is characteristic- 
ally remarked in the official history of the War, that the 
journey from Berlin had been relatively slow, because it 
was necessary to fit the six supplementary trains bearing 
the great head-quarters into the series of military tnCins in 
such a way as would not retard the transport of troops. 
It is a small fact, but an apt illustration of the preference 
uniformly given to essentials in.the Prussian arrangements 
for war. Soon after the Staff had arrived in the ** Deutsche 
Haus," lent by the Grand Duke, whose son. Prince Louis, 
the husband of the British Princess Alice, commanded the 
Hessian Division, unexpected information greeted them. 
Telegrams reported first that a serious action was in 
progress at Saarbriick, and later that the Prussian troops 
had withdrawn from the town. 

This was the famous combat, known at the time as the 
BojptSme de feu of the unfortunate Prince Imperial. The 
Emperor Napoleon entered Metz on the 28th of July, and 
took the command of the " Army of the Rhine." Until 
that moment, the seven corps d'armee in the field were 
under the orders of Marshal Bazaine, who received his 


instructions from Paris through Marshal Lebceuf . They 
were to act strictly on the defensive, advice which may be 
said to have been needless, since, as we have shown, not 
one of the corps was in a condition to march and fight. 
When the Emperor appeared on the scene, no great 
change for the better had taken place, and there was still 
a dearth of real information respecting the strength and 
position <^ the enemy, while the reports brought in 
contained an enormous percentage of error. Nevertheless, 
there was a vague feeling at head-quarters that something 
must be done to satisfy a public opinion which thought 
that the French armies should have been already beyond 
the Rhine; and on the 30th of July Marshal Bazaine 
received orders to cross the Saar and occupy Saarbruck. 
The task was to be intrusted to General Frossard, supported 
by troops on the right and left, drawn from the Corps of 
De Failly and Bazaine. Yet this modest operation dwindled 
down, when discussed in a sort of Council of War held the 
next day at Forbach, into a simple cannonade, and the 
occupation of the heights on the left bank ! The Emperor 
was told that his project could not be executed, and 
resigning himseK, as he always did, to the inevitable, he 
warned MacMahon that no movement should be made on 
his side before the lapse of eight days. The ostentatious 
movement on Saarbruck was to be made on the 2nd of 
August. Now, at that date, the place was occupied by 
fractions of the 8th German Corps, posted on both banks 
of the river above and below the town. They consisted 
of four battalions of foot, several squadrons of horse, 
and one battery, and the nearest immediate support was 
some miles to the rear, near Lebach. Colonel von Pestel 
had held the position from the outset of the war, and 
was allowed to remain, at his own request, although a 
considerable army stood in his front at no gpreat distance. 


that is, the three leading corps of the Army of the Bhiner 
But on the 2nd Count von G-neisenau was in command of 
the German outposts, and had orders, if pressed, to retire 
upon Lebach, but he stood fast, and even assumed the 
ofFensire, in order to ascertain exactly what the pressure 
might be, and test the intentions of the adversary. 
Against him, in the forenoon, advanced Frossard in the 
centre, Bazaine on the right, and De Failly, who had 
crossed the river at Saareguemines, on his left. It was a 
wonderful spectacle. The Emperor and the Prince Imperial 
were present on the hills to behold so vast an array moving 
out in parade order, to fight a sham battle with real shot 
and shell, against a' dozen companies and six guns. It is 
not necessary to enter into a detail of this combat ; it is 
sufficient to say that the Prussians held on to the left bank 
until they were obliged, after^an hour's fighting, to retire 
before the development of several brigades. Finally, when 
a French* battery on the Reppertsberg had opened fire on 
the bridges and the town. Count von G-neisenau withdrew 
his troops, first to a place near the town, and afterw^ds to 
a position further in the rear. At other points on the river 
the French had failed to pass, but in the evening they sent 
parties into Saarbriick, then unoccupied. The French in 
this skirmish lost eighty-six, and the Prussians, eighty- 
three officers and men killed and wounded. It was the 
first occasion on which the soldiers of Napoleon III. had an 
opportunity of testing the qualities of the German Army, 
and they found that their secular adversaries, disciplined on 
a different model, and broken to new tactics, were as hardy, 
active, and formidable as those of Frederick the Great. 

After this striking example of stage thunder, there was 
a pause — the French did not pursue the retreating 
companies of the 40th and 69th, hold the town, or even 
destroy the bridges. Indeed, General Frossard, in his 


pamphlet, explains that although so few were visible, 
there must have been large numbers of the 8th Prussian 
Corps near at hand, and insists that they were held back 
because the adversary did not wish to show his strength ; 
BO that the result actually had an unfavourable influence 
on the French — ^it inspired in them a feeling of apprehen- 
sion. They dreaded the unknown. Without exact, and with 
what was worse, misleading information, the Marshals and 
Generals were bewildered by every adverse strong patrol, 
which boldly marched up and even looked into their camps ; 
and out of these scouting parties they constructed full corps 
ready to pounce upon them* No master mind at head- 
quarters filled them with confidence, or gave a firm direction 
to their soldiers. At a very early period, even in the highest 
ranks, arose a querulous dread of " Prussian spies," and a 
belief that the hills and woods concealed countless foes. 
The apprehensions had no solid foundation, since the First 
Army was not nearer the Saar than Losheim and Wadern, 
and the only troops in the immediate front of Q^neral 
Frossard were those composing Gneisenau's weak detach- 
ment, which retired some miles on the road to Lebach. 
Yet the feeble operation of August the 2nd induced the 
Great Staff to concentrate the First Army at Tholey, that 
is nearer to the main line of march of the Second Army, 
and on the left flank of the probable French advance. 
None took place, and thenceforward the swift and measured 
development of the German movement southwards went 
steadily onwards. 

Preparing to go forward. 
After reviewing the general position of the opposing 
armies, the German , head-quarters fixed on the 4th of 
August as the. day on which ofEensive operations should be 


b^un. It was known in a sufficiently authentic way, that 
there were between Metz and the Saar, four French Corps 
and the Guard, the Left being at Bouzonville, south of 
Saarlouis, and the Bight at Bitsche; that the 1st Corps 
was south of Hainan, in Alsace, and that the two 
remaining Corps were still incomplete, one being at Chalons, 
the other at Belf ort. It was, therefore, determined that 
the Prussian Crown Prince should cross the Lauter on the 
4th, while Prince Charles and G^eneral von Steinmetz, at a 
later date, should move upon Saarbruck, and grapple^with 
the main Imperial Army as soon as they could bring the 
foe to battle. Practically, the skirmish on the 2nd put 
everyone on the alert. Acting, as was usual in the German 
Army on their own discretion, yet stiU in the spirit of 
their instructions, the diyisional and Corps commanders at 
once sprang forward to support Gneisenau^ so that (m the 
3rd, the front lines of the First Army were nearer m;o the 
enemy than had been prescribed, and General von S:teinmetz 
came up from Treves to Loshiem. 

During this period, the Second Army had continued its 
movement upon Eaiserslautem, and its cavalry had already 
established a connection with the First Army. It was not 
the intention of General von Moltke, who really spoke with 
the voice of His Majesty, that the Saar should be crossed 
until a later day. He seems to have been under the im- 
pression that the French might dtill assume the offensive; 
he therefore held back the somewhat impetuous Steinmetz, 
and so ordered the movements that both armies should 
take up positions between Tholey and Kaiserslautem, 
which would enable them to act in concert. Thus, on the 
3rd, the vast array between the Bhine and the Moselle, was 
in motion, left in front, in other words, the Prussian Crown 
Prince was the most forward, while the centre and right 
were drawn together, preparatory to an advance in a 


compact form. The French, it was noted with surprise, had 
not only refrained from breaking the substantial bridges 
over the Saar, but had left untouched the telegraph wires 
and stations on both banks of the stream, so that, says the 
official narrative, the Staff at Mainz were kept constantly 

" informed by telegrams of the enemy's doings and bearing 
near Saarbruck. Such negligence would not be credited 
were it not thus authenticaJly recorded by the General who 
found it so profitable. 

By the 4th of August, the entire front of the Armies 
adyandng towards the Saar was covered by several 

i regiments of cavalry, actively engaged on and near the 
river, especially at = Saarbruck, in closely watchilig the 
French, and sending information to the rear.^ There was 
not a point between Pirmasens and Saarlouis which escaped 
the notice of these vigilant and tireless horsemen. Behind 
them camethe masses of the First and Second Armies, which 
latter, on the 4th, had passed " the wooded zone of Kaisers- 
lautem," and had approached so closely to the First, that 

^ a species of controversy for precedence arose between Prince 
Charles and General von Steinmetz. Fearful of being 
thrust into the second line, the eager old soldier wanted to 
push forward on Saarbruck, and reap the laurels of the first 
battle, or, at all events, keep his place at the head of the 
advance. General von Moltke, who had his own plans of 
nlterior action, which were not those of Steinmetz, in ordet^ 

* to settle the dispute, drew what he supposed would be an 
effective line of demarcation between the two Armies. 
He also added the 1st Corps, which had come up from 
Pomerania, to the First Army ; the 2nd, 10th and 12th 
to the Second, and the 6th to the Third Army. While 
directing the Crown Prince to cross the Lauter on the 
4th, C^enaral von Moltke did not intend to pass the 
Saar until the 9th, and then to act with the whole force 


assembled on that side. In fact, rapidly as the business 
of mobilization, the transit by railway, and the collection 
of trains for so vast a body of men, horses, and guns, bad 
been performed, the work was not in all respects quite 
complete, nor had the soldiers been able, good marchers as 
they were, to cover the ground between them and the 
adyersaiy. before the date assigned. 

Yet Yon Moltke proposed, and Yon Steinmetz disposed, 
although he is acquitted by his chief of any deliberate 
intention to act prematurely. The latter, obliged to make 
room for Prince Charles, gave directions which brought his 
two leading Corps within reach of the Saar and his adraneed 
guards close to Y51kingen and Saarbruck in actual contact 
with the French outposts ; and that disposition led to a 
considerable battle on the 6th, a collision not anticipated 
at the head-quarters in Mainz. It is, however, pointedly 
declared that at the moment when he thrust himself forward 
Steinmetz did not know what were the plans which had 
been formed in that exalted region, to be carried out or 
modified according to events, and therefore withheld from 
him. The broad scheme was that the Third Army should, 
after crossing the Yosges, march on Nancy, and that the 
First should form the pivot on which the Second Aimf 
would wheel in turning the French position on the line of 
the Moselle. Practically that was done in the end, and it 
was facilitated, perhaps, by the two battles fought on the 
6th of August, which shattered the French, and obliged 
them to act, not as they might have wished, but as they 
were compelled. 

PosUioTis an August 4. 
For the sake of clearness, the positions occupied by the 
rival Armies on the morning of the 4th may be succinctly 


described. The French stood thus: On the right, two 
divisions of the 5th Corps, one at Saareguemines, the other 
at Grossbliedersdorff ; in what may be called the centre, 
three divisions of the 2nd Corps, on and over the frontier 
immediately south of Saarbriick ; three divisions of the 3rd 
Corps echelonned on the high-road from Forbach to St. 
Avoid, with one division at Bouchepom ; on the left, three 
divisions of the 4th Corps, one at Ham, a second at 
Teterchen, and a third at Bouzonville. The guard were in 
rear of the left at Les Etangs. The position of the cavalry 
it is difficult to determine, but they were not where they 
should have been — feeling for and watching the enemy. 
Nor is it easy to ascertain the numerical strength of the 
French Army at any given moment, because the reserves 
and battalions, as they could be spared from garrisons, 
were constantly arriving ; but on the 4th there were about 
150,000 men and 500 guns in front of Metz. That 
fortress, however, like all the other strong f>laces on or near 
the frontier, such as Toul, Verdun, ThionyiUe, and Belf ort, 
had no garrison proper, or one quite inadequate to its 

The German Armies on the 4th were posted in this 
order: The Crown Prince's was behind the Klingbach, 
south of Landau, assembled at dawn for the march which 
carried it over the frontier ; the Second, or Central Army, 
under Prince Charles, was in line of march through the 
Haardt Wald- by Kaiserslautem, the advanced guard of 
the 4th Corps being at Homburg, and that of the 3rd at 
Neunkirchen ; while the Guard, the 10th, 12th, and 9th 
were still north or east of Xaiserslautern, which they 
passed the next day. The First Army, held back by 
orders from the Great Staff, was cantonned between 
Neunkirchen, Tholey, and Lebach. In front of the whole 
line, from Saarlouis to Saareguemines, were several 


brigades of cavalry, from which parties, both strong and 
weak, were sent out constantly to discover and report on 
the positions and doings of the enemy. The three Annies, 
as far as can be estimated from the official ^ores, brought 
into the field at the outset of the campaign, say the 4th of 
August, the First, 83,000 men and 270 guns ; the Second, 
200,000 men and 630 guns ; and the Third, 170,000 men 
and 576 guns, an overwhelming array compared with that 
mustered by the adversary. These totals include only the 
active Army. The aggregate from which they were drawn 
amounted to the enormous siun of 1,183,389 men and 
250,873 horses, which, of course, indndes garrisons, depots, 
and landwehr in course of formation. It has been laid 
down on indisputable authority that the number available 
for active operations, namely, that which can be put into 
the field, is, in all cases, as it was in this, less than half the 
nominal effective. The proportion of mobilized, to what 
may be called immobilized, troops in the French Army 
was for the moment, at all events, necessarily somewhat 
lower than in the Qerman, because the Imperial military 
system, as we have already explained, was so clumsy, 
as well as so incomplete. 

The Moral cmd PolUieal Forces. 
One other fact may be usefully noticed, because it had 
a considerable influence on the campaign. It is this — ^the 
moral force, represented by public opinion in politics, and 
in the Armies by what the French call the moral, which 
has nothing to do with morals, but means cheerfulness, 
good will, confidence — ^had passed wholly over to the 
(German side. Public opinion, which ran in a strong and 
steady current, condemned the declaration of war, although 
a certain superstitious belief in the invincibUity <tf French 


soldiers, at least when opposed to Germans, still preYailed, 
even among military men who ought to have been better 
informed and less under the sway of prejudice. While 
Germany was united and hearty, and willingly obeyed an 
executive which no one questioned, while Saxony and 
Hanoyer, Wurtembei^ and Bavaria vied in patriotic ardour 
with Pomerania and Brandenburg; there was no such 
complete and consentaneous feeling in France ; and there 
was, on the one hand, a powerful, ambitious, and indignant 
group of Imperialists, who thirsted for the possession of 
office, which they strove to snatch from Emile Ollivier and 
bis semi-Liberal colleagues, and on the other, outside all 
the Imperialist sections, the repressed, enraged, and sturdy 
republicans of Paris who, it is not too much to say, waited 
for the first decisive defeat of the Imperial Armies to over- 
turn an arbitrary system of government which they de- 
tested on account of its treacherous origin, and dreaded, 
as well as despised, while they writhed beneath its power. 
J^r6me David and Clement Duvemois were resolved to 
expel the so-called constitutionalists ; and Gambetta, Eavre, 
and their friends were equally determined, if an oppor- 
tunity occurred, to destroy the Empire, root and branch. 
There were no such elements of weakness beyond the 

Nor, as we shall see, did the conduct of the Empress 
Eugenie, in her capacity as Eegent, supply strength to the 
Government or impart wisdom to its councils. She had 
one dominant idea — ^the preservation of the dynasty — and 
aided by a willing instrument, the Comte de Palikao, she 
was the prime a^ent in the work of depriving the French 
nation of the best and last chance of saving Paris from in- 
vestment and capitulation. If the political conditions were 
adverse to the Imperialists in respect of unity and moral 
force, they were not less so when estimated from a military 



standpoint. The French Army we will not say lost courage, 
but confidence, from the moment when it was brought to 
a standstill. The soldiers knew quite as well as the 
generals why, on the 4th of August, the larger host, 
under an Emperor Napoleon, was pottering to and fro, 
driven hither and thither by orders and counter-orders, in 
the country north of Metz, and why the smaller, com- 
manded by Marshal the Duke of Magenta, was still south 
of the Lauter. They knew also, from daily experience, 
how imperfect the Armies were, because the weakness of 
the battalions, the scarcity of provisions, the defects of 
equipment, the lack of camp utensils were things which 
could not be hidden. They were also inactive and unable 
to develop the power which springs up in a French Army 
when engaged in successful offensive operations ; they 
deteriorated hourly in morale. The Germans gained con- 
fidence at every step they took towards the frontier, not 
only because they were animated by a formidable patriotic 
spirit and were eager for battle with their ancient foes, but 
because each battery, squadron, and battalion had its full 
complement of men, because they put trust in their royal 
chief and his illustrious assistant, and because they were 
intensely proud of an almost perfect war-apparatus, in 
which each officer and soldier was able, so solid yet elastic 
was the system of training, to harmonize obedience to 
orders with, when the need arose, discretionary inde- 
pendent action. So that as the huge but perfectly articu- 
lated masses of the German Armies moved swiftly and 
steadily to the frontier behind which the adversary awaited 
them, they bore along in their breasts that priceless belief 
in themselves and their cause which had so often carried 
troops to victory, even when they were few and their foes 
were many. The contrast is painfully distressing ; but it 
is also profoundly instructive, because when closely scruti- 


nized it reveals the open secrets which show, not only how 
empires are lost and won, but what severe duties a great 
self-respecting people must perform to obtain securities 
for the right of cementing and preserving National In* 



THE first blow struck in the war — ^for the parade at 
Saarbruck does not deserve the name of a blow — ^was 
deliveredon the Lauter by the Crown Prince. The French 
Army in Alsace, commanded by Marshal MacMahon, had 
been collected at Strasburg &om the garrisons in the 
Eastern region. At first it consisted of the 1st Corps, 
which included four infantry diyisions, troops of the Line, 
to which were added, before the end of July, three regi- 
ments of Zouaves, and three of native Algerians, which 
were distributed among the Fi'ench infantry brigades. 
There were three brigades of cavalry, ninety-six guns, and 
twenty-four mitrailleuses, the Emperor's pet arm. The 
Divisional Commanders were Ducrot, Abel Douay, Baoult, 
and Lartigue ; and the horsemen were under the orders of 
Duhesme. The 7th Corps, nominally at Belfort, under 
F^lix Douay, actually distributed in several places, one 
division being at Lyons, another at Colmar, was also within 
the command of MacMahon ; so that, on the 4th of August, 
he was at the head of two Corps, one of which was many 
miles distant from his head-quarters. He had, however, 
moved forward with Ducrot and Baoult to Eeichshofen and 
Lartigue to Hagenau, while Abel Douay was pushed still 
further northward at Wissembourg, which he reached on 


the 3rd, but with a portion only of his troops. In fact, at 
that date, the army of MacMahon was strung out between 
the Lauter and Lyons, and even the portion which may be 
described as concentrated, consisted of fragments posted or 
on the march between Wissembourg and Hagenau. That 
very morning, the 1st Division of the 7th Corps started by 
railway from Colmar to join the Marshal. It was upon 
this scattered array that the Crown Prince was adyancing. 
MacMahon, who had intended to assume the ofFensiye him- 
self oil the 7th of August, did not know how near and how 
compact was the host of his foes. Abel Douay, established 
on the Lauter, was obliged to part with several battalions 
to keep up his communications, through Lembach, with 
the main body. He sent out a pai*ty on the evening of the 
3rd, and early on the 4th, yet each returned bearing back 
the same report — ^they had seen and learned nothing of 
the enemy. Indeed, it would be difficult to find a single 
instance in which the researches of the French were thrust 
far enough to touch the Germans, all their reconnoitring 
excursions being carried on in a routine and perfunctoiy 
manner. Nevertheless, they had a strong force of cavalry 
in Alsace as well as Lorraine ; but it was mostly in the 
rear, rarely much, never far in front. On the other hand, 
the Baden horsemen had looked, unseen themselves, into 
the French cavalry camp at Selz, and the scouts on the 
hills had signalled the successive arrival of battalions and 
artillery at Wissembourg. It must be stated, however, 
that the Germans did not know, precisely, until they came 
in contact with them, what forces were in, or were within 
reach of Wissembourg. 

The object of the German forward movement was two- 
fold — if MacMahon had crossed the Vosges to join the 
Emperor, Strasburg was to be invested, and the rest of the 
Third Army was to pass through the hills to the Saar and 


effect a juiietion with tlie Second. If the Marshal were 
still east of the hills, then he was to be assailed wheieyer 
found. Consequently, the whole Armj was set in motion, 
but it was by a gift of fortune, who, howeyer, rarely &yours 
the imprudent, that they were enabled to defeat the di- 
yision exposed to their onset. At four and six in the 
morning, the Corps moyed out on a broad front stretching 
from the hills to the Bhine. Bothmer's Bayarians, on the 
right, marched direct on Wissembourg, followed by the 
other diyisions of the Bayarian Army. Next in order, to 
the left, came the 5th Corps, which was directed upon 
Altenstadt; the 11th, which pushed through the Bien 
Wald; and the Badeners, whose object was Lauter- 
bourg ; while the remainder of the Army was still far to 
the rear. 

The Comhat <m the Lauter. 
Wissembourg, a picturesque old town, standing upon 
the Lauter at a point where it enters the plain, is defended 
by walls not armed with guns, and surrounded by deep 
ditches filled from the stream, one arm of which curyes 
through the place. There were three gates. Under the 
archway of the northern, named after the town of Hagenau, 
passed the gpneat road ^ni Strasburg, which, turning to 
the eastward, quitted the ramparts by the gate of Landau. 
The western gate, a mere entrance cut through the wall, 
haying in adyance a small lunette, receiyed the road from 
Pirmasens. It took its name from the fort of Bitsche, but 
the track from that place came down the folded hills by 
the Col du Pigeonnier, or Doye-cote Neck, and joined the 
Strasburg highway just outside the Hagenau gate. Be- 
yond the waUs were factories, pottery fields, and mills; 
aboye and below were the once famous Lines of the Lauter 


thrown up on, and following the right bank of the stream 
through the forest to Lauterbourg ; while on the foot-hills 
were vines, which do not add to the beautj of anj scene, 
and hop-gardens; and here and there the usual rows of 
stiff trees bordering, yet not shading, the roads. Distant 
about a mile or so to the eastward is a spur of the Yosges, 
the C^isberg, thrust into the plain, falling steeply towards 
it, and crowned by a substantial chateau, seated above 
terraces difficult of access. From this elevation were visible, 
spread out like a map, the woodlands stretching towards 
the Bhine, the roads to the east and south, and the town, 
with its railway station, now silent, near the gate of 

As Abel Douay had only available about eight thousand 
troops, he could not defend the approaches through the 
Bien Wald, or prevent a turning movement round his right 
flank. Still, had he not been imder a delusion respecting 
the proximity of the enemy, he could and would have de- 
stroyed the few bridges over the Lauter, and so disposed his 
troops as not to be surprised. But his scouts had reported 
that the foe was not near, and thus, when the Bavarian 
advance appeared on the hills at eight o'clock and opened 
fire from a battery, the French soldiers were engaged in the 
ordinary routine of camp labours. Startled by the guns, 
they ran to their arms with alacrity; but an encounter 
begun under such conditions is always disadvantageous to 
the assailed. General Douay, an able soldier, came to a 
rapid dedsion. He placed two battalions in the town, 
another with a battery at the railway station, and posted 
the rest and twelve guns on the slopes of the Geisberg. 
The walls and ditches of the tovm, the railway buildings, 
and part of the Lauter Lines, brought the Bavarians to a 
stand, and the combat of small arms and artillery on this 
point continued amid the vineyards and hop-grounds, while 


the German centre and Left were swinging round tlirough 
the forest. The operation occupied considerable time, as 
two hours passed by, from the firing of the first gun, before 
the leading battalions of the 5th Corps were brought into 
play. At length, they came into action against the railway 
station, and as the 11th Corps had also developed an attack 
on the Geisberg from the east, it was evident that the 
combat could not last long. The combined efforts of the 
Bavarians and the Prussians, after severe fighting and 
some loss, drove the French out of the station, and captured 
the town, together with a battalion of the French regiment 
of the Line, the 74th, which was cut off, and forced to sur- 
render. The assailants had penetrated by the gates after 
they had been broken in by artillery, and thus the town 
was won. It was really the strong pivot of the defence, and 
its resistance delayed the onset upon the Geisberg for some 
time. In the meantime. General Abel Douay had been 
killed by the explosion of the ammunition attached to a 
mitrailleuse battery ; and the command had devolved upon 
General Pelle. 

The whole stress of the action now fell upon the Geisberg 
and its castle. The height was steep, the building pierced 
for musketry and strong enough to resist anything but 
cannon-shot. The front was approached by successive 
terraces, and there was a hop-garden near by on the 
Altenstadt road. The main body of the French and all 
their artillery, except one disabled gun which had been 
captured after a sharp fight, were on the hills to the south, 
threatened every moment on their right flank by the de- 
velopment of the 11th Corps which had entered the area 
of battle. The little garrison in the castle made a stout 
resistance, slew many of the assailants, who swarmed upon 
all sides, and compelled the more daring among them to 
seek shelter at the foot of the walls. Then the Germans 


with great labour brought up in succession four batteries, 
by whose fire alone they could hope to master the obstinate 
defenders who had manned even the tiled roof with rifle- 
men. Surrounded, threatened with the weight of twenty- 
four guns, and seeing their comrades outside in full retreat, 
the garrison which had done its uttermost, surrendered as 
prisoners of war. They were two hundred, had killed and 
wounded enemies amounting to three-fourths of their own 
number, and had seriously injured G-eneral von Elrchbach, 
the commander of the 5th Coi*ps. When the castle had 
fallen the French retired altogether. Making only one 
show of resistance they disappeared among the hiUs, and 
what is remarkable were not pursued, for the Crown Prince 
riding up, halted all the troops and even the cavalry who 
were in full career on the track of the enemy. The Ger- 
mans lost in killed and wounded no fewer than 1,550 
officers and men ; but the French loss is not exactly known. 
They left behind, however, nearly a thousand unwounded 
prisoners, their camp, and one gun. 

It may fairly be said of this combat, especially considering 
they were surprised and greatly outnumbered, that the 
French sustained their old renown as fighting men and that 
the first defeat, although severe, reflected no discredit on the 
soldiers of the 1st Corps. By no chance could they have 
successfully withstood the well-combined and powerful on- 
sets of their more numerous adversaries. Nevertheless, 
the death of Douay, the defeat, and the disorganization of 
the division had a profound moral effect, keenly felt at 
Metz and more keenly in Hagenau and Eeichshofen. 
Marshal MacMahon called for instant aid from the 7th 
Corps ; and the Emperor, moved by the news, decided to 
send him the 5th Corps, which General de Failly was at 
once ordered to assemble at Bitsche and then move up the 
great road to Eeichshofen. In the German head-quarters 


and camps, on the contrary, tbere was rejoicing and that 
natural accession of confidence in the breasts of the soldiers 
now pressing towards the Saar which springs up in fuller 
vigour than ever when they learn that their common 
standard has floated victoriously over the first f oughten field. 
The First and Second Armies were still distant from the 
rocky steeps and thick woods where they also were to gain 
the day ; but the Third Army, which, by the way, was a 
fair representative of South and North G(ermany, had 
actually crossed the frontier, had penetrated into Alsace, 
through woods and field-works and over streams renowned 
in story, and had inflicted a sharp defeat upon the Gallic 
troops, whose rulers had challenged the Teutons to wager 
of battle. 

It is admitted that, on the evening of August 4th, the 
Germans had lost touch of the adversary. The reason was 
that the 4th Cavalry Division, which had been ordered 
up by the Crown Prince early in the day, had found the 
roads blocked by an Infantry Corps, and the vexatious 
delay prevented the horsemen from reaching the front 
before nightfall. So difficult is it to move dense masses of 
men, horses, and guns, in accurate succession through a 
closed country, along cross-roads and field-lanes. The few 
squadrons at hand were not strong enough to pursue on 
the several roads which radiate from Wissembourg, and 
the defect could not be remedied until the next day. It 
was known that the fugitives could not have followed the 
southern roads, yet there were hostile troops in that direc- 
tion, and it was surmised that they must have retreated 
into the highlands by the western track, yet they might 
have traversed another way, lying under the foot of the 
hills. On the 5th of August, the cavalry, starting out at 
daylight, soon gathered up accurate information. General 
von Bemhardi, with a brigade of Uhlans, rode forward on 


the highway, into the Hagenau forest, where he was stopped 
bj a broken bridge guarded by in&ntry ; bat he heard the 
noise of trains, the whistling of engines, and, of course, in- 
ferred the movement of troops ; while on the east, nearer 
the Bhine, the squadrons sent in that direction were turned 
back both by in&ntrj and barricaded roads. Towards the 
west, a squadron of Uhlans crossed the Saner at Gunstett, 
a place we shall soon meet again ; while Colonel Schauroth's 
Hussars found the bridge at Woerth broken, were fired on 
by guns and riflemen, and saw laige bodies in motion on 
the heights beyond the stream. Hence it was inferred that 
the army of MacMahon was in position about Beichshof en, 
an inference confirmed by the reports from the Bavarians 
who had marched on Lembaeh, from the 5th Corps whose 
leading columns attained Preuschdorf, with outposts to- 
wards Woerth, and from the Badeners on the left, who 
found the enemy retiriug westward. At night, the Crown 
Prince's Army had not wholly crossed the frontier. In 
front, were Hartmann's Bavarians at Lembaeh, the 5th 
Corps before Woerth, the 11th, on the railway as far as 
Surburg ; the Badeners on their left rear behind the Selz ; 
Yon der Tann's Bavarians at Ingolsheim, and the head- 
quarters and 4th Cavalry Division at Soultz, otherwise 
Sulz. The 6th Corps — ^having one division at Landau, 
formed a reserve. MacMahon's troops, except Conseil- 
Dumesnil's division of the 7th Corps, near Hagenau, 
were all in position between Morsbronn and Neehwiller 
behind the Sulz and the Sauer, a continuous line of water 
which separated the rival outposts. The Emperor had 
placed the 5th Corps at the disposal of MacMahon, yet he 
finally detained one-half of Lapasset*s division at Saaregue- 
mines, and drew it to himself ; while that of Guyot de 
Lespart was sent, on the 6th, towards Niederbronn, and 
Goze's, not wholly assembled at Bitsche on the 5th, re- 


mained witli General de Faillj, who, at no moment in the 
campaign — such was his ill-fortune — ^had his entire Corps 
imder his orders. 

French Position on the Soar. 
We may now revert to the positions occupied bj the 
rivals on both banks of the Saar, in order to complete the 
survey of an extensive series of operations which stretched 
without a break, in a military sense, from the Bhine 
opposite Bastadt, towards the confluence of the Saar and 
Moselle. If the German Head-Quarter Staff at Mainz, 
considering how well it was served, and what pains were 
taken to acquire information, remained in some doubt as to 
the positions and projects of the Imperialists, at Metz, ill- 
served and hesitating, all was bewilderment and conjecture. 
Neither the Emperor Napoleon, nor his chief adviser 
Marshal Lebceuf , seemed capable of grasping the situation 
now rapidly becoming perilous to them ; they had, indeed, 
fallen under an influence which tells so adversely on inferior 
minds — dread of the adversary's combinations ; and, per- 
plexed by the scraps of intelligence sent in from the front, 
they adopted no decisive resolution, but waited helplessly 
on events. No serious attempt was made to concentrate 
the Army in a good position where it could flght, or 
manoeuvre, or retreat, although, as General Frossard and 
Marshal Bazaine both state such a central defensive position 
had been actually studied and marked out, in 1867. 
Whether the occupation of the country between Saareg^e- 
mines and (Etingen would have produced a favourable 
effect on the campaign or not, it would have prevented the 
Army from being crushed in detail, and have given another 
turn to the war. But there was no firmness nor insight at 
Metz. The oirders issued by the Emperor look like the 


work of an amateur who had read much of war, but who 
possessed neither the instincts of the born soldier, nor the 
indefatigable industry and business-like skill of a man who, 
thrust into an unwonted employment, compelling him to 
&ce hard realities, endeavours to cope with them by a steady 
and intelligent application of the principles of common 

On the morning of the 4th, the Emperor did no more 
than shift his left wing a little nearer to his centre, by 
bringing General de Ladmirault into closer contact with 
Marshal Bazaine, leaving Frossard in front of Saarbruck, 
and directing De FaiQy to assemble two divisions at 
Bitsche, and report to Marshal MacMahon. The notion 
prevailing in the Imperial head-quarters was, that the Ger- 
mans designed to inarch upon Nancy, which was not their 
plan at all, and that the 7th Corps, reported to be on the 
march from Treves, might make an ofEensive movement to 
protect Saarlouis, forgetting, as Frossard observes, that 
their rule was concentration and not isolated operations ; 
and that the railroad from Saarbruck afforded the only 
serious inlet into Lorraine. In the evening the news of 
Abel Douay's defeat and "wound," not death, reached 
Metz, and created alarm, but did not cause any serious 
modification of the Imperial plans. The next day the 
Emperor, still retaining the supreme direction of the Army, 
and keeping the Guard to himself, formally handed over 
the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Corps to Marshal Bazaine, "for 
military operations only;" and the 1st, 6th, partly at 
Bitsche, and 7th, mainly at Belf ort, to Marshal MacMalion. 
The incomplete 6th Corps, under Marshal Canrobert, had 
not yet moved out from the camp at Chalons. Thus, 
there were practically two Corps remote from the decisive 
points, and one in an intermediate position, so handled by 
the Imperial Commander as to be useless. Not only was 


the force called out for war scattered over an extensive 
area, but — ^and the fact should be borne in mind— the 
fortresses were without proper and effectiye garrisons, and, 
what was equally important, thej had no adequate stores 
of provisions, arms, and mimitions ; while the great works 
at Metz itself, upon which such reliance had been placed, 
were far from being in a defensive condition. Early on 
the 5th, in answer to a suggestion from Frossard, who 
was always urging concentration, the Emperor directed 
him, yet not until the 6th, to fix his head-quarters at For- 
bach, and draw his divisions round about in such a manner 
that, when ordered, he might remove his head- quarters to 
St. Avoid ; instructions which left him in doubt, and in- 
spired him with anxiety. During the evening, however, 
acting on his own discretion, he thought it fit to place his 
troops in fresh positions, somewhat to the rear on the up- 
lands of Spicheren, with one division, upon higher ground 
in the rear, yet that step, though an improvement, did not 
remove his apprehension respecting his left flank, which 
had been weakened by the withdrawal of Montaudon's 
division of the 3rd Corps to Saareguemines. General 
Frossard has been much censured, but he was a man of 
real ability, and almost the only general who, from first to 
last, always took the precaution of covering his front with 
field works. 

Oerman Position on the Soar, 
We have indicated, in the preceding chapter, the stages 
attained by the First and Second German Armies on the 
4th ; and have now only to repeat, for the sake of clearness, 
a summary of their array on the evening of the 5th. The 
several Corps of the Second were still moving up towards 
the Star. The 4th Corps was at Ein5d and Homburg, 


the Guard near Landstuhl ; the 9th about Kaiserslautem, 
and the 12th a march to the rear. Further westward, 
the 10th halted at Ousel, and the 3rd was in its front, 
between St. Wendel and Neunkirchen. The First Army 
remained in the villages where it was located on the 4th, 
that is the 7th and 8th between Lebach and Steinweiler, 
with one division of the incomplete First Corps at Birken- 
feld. On the evening of that day, however. General 
Steinmetz issued an order of movement for the next, 
which carried the leading columns of the 7th and 8th 
close to Saarbruck, and, as a consequence, brought on 
the battle of Spicheren, the narrative of which sanguinary 
and spirited fight will fall into its natural place later 
on. As the main current of the campaign flowed Metz* 
ward, it will be convenient to recount, first, the opera- 
tions of the Crown Prince's Army, which though in a 
measure subsidiary, produced more telling and decisive 
effects upon the fortunes of the French, than the engage- 
ment which broke down their foremost line of battle on 
the Saar. 



I. — Woerth. 

ALIEIE in Alsace and Lorraine, the actions wMcli made 
the 6th of August a date so memorable in this 
swiftly moving war were undesigned on the part of the 
assailant and unexpected on the part of the assailed. In 
other words, as G-eneral von Moltke did not intend to throw 
the force of his right and centre against the main body of 
the Imperialists until all the Corps were closer to the 
frontier and to each other, so the Crown Prince proposed 
to employ the day in changing front from the south to the 
west and then direct his serried lines upon the front and 
flanks of MacMahon's Army, which he confidently expected 
to find in position behind the Sulz and the Sauer, covering 
the road to Bitsche. The despatches of the French Marital 
also show that he counted on a day's respite, since his 
orders to De Failly were that the two divisions commanded 
by that ill-used officer were to march on the 6th to join 
the 1st Corps, so that they might be in line to fight a 
battle on the following day. But De Failly, harassed by 
fluctuating orders from Metz, shifted hither and thither, 
now to the right, now to the left, and never permitted to 
keep his Corps in hand, was unable to do more than start 
one division on the road to Eeichshof en, while he assembled 


the other at Bitscbe, and left one-lialf the third on the 
Saar to share the misfortunes of Napoleon and Bazaine. 
No such hesitation and infirmity of purpose characterized 
the conduct of the German commanders. They had well- 
defined plans, indeed » and issued clear and precise orders, 
yet both the one and the other were so framed that they 
could be modified to deal with unexpected incidents, and 
adapted at once to the actually ascertained circumstances 
of the moment, which is the very essence of war. The 
spirit of the German training gives a large discretion to 
superior officers, who are taught to apply the rules issued 
for their guidance to the military situation which, in the 
field, is certain to vary from day to day, or even from hour 
to hour. Moreover, a German general who attacks is 
certain to receive the ready support of comrades who may 
be near, while those more remote, who hear the sound of 
battle or receive a request for help, at once hasten forward, 
reporting the fact to, without awaiting orders from, su- 
perior authority. Nothing testifies more effectively to the 
soundness of the higher education in the Prussian military 
system than the fact that it is possible not only to confer 
these large powers on subordinates, but to encourage the 
use of them. At the same time it must be acknowledged 
that, in any army where the officers do not make the study 
of war their daily and hourly business, and where the best 
of the best are not selected for command and staff duty, 
the latitude enjoyed by the Germans could not be granted, 
because its capricious and unintelligent use would lead to 
needless bloodshed, the frustration of great designs, and 
perhaps shameful defeat. 

It has been already stated that both commanders had 
intended to assume the offensive and fight a battle on the 
7 th, the Crown Prince proposing to bring up the greater 
part of his Army and envelop the French, and Marshal 


MacMahon, who thought he was dealing with the heads of 
oolumns, having drawn up a plan to attack the Germans in 
front with the 1st and turn their right flank with the 5th 
Corps. Had he known how strong and how compact was 
the array of his opponent he never could have framed a 
scheme which would have transferred to the enemy all the 
advantages possessed by himself. The contingency of a 
forward movement on his part had been foreseen and 
guarded against, and the precautions adopted on the 
evening of the 5th would have become far more formidable 
had the next day passed by without a battle. But those 
very protective measures, as will be seen, tended to pre- 
cipitate a conflict by bringing the troops into contact on 
the front and left flank of the French position. Marshal 
MacMahon had selected and occupied exceptionally strong 
ground. He posted his divisions on a high plateau west of 
the Sauer and the Sulz, between Neehwiller and Eberbach, 
having Froeschwiller as a kind of redoubt in the centre, 
and the wooded slopes of the hills running steeply down to 
the brooks in his front. The left wing, where General 
Ducrot commanded, was thrown back to guard the passages 
through the woodlands, which led down the right bank of 
the Sulz from Mattstal into the position. The centre 
fronted Woerth, which was not occupied, and the right, 
without leaning on any special protective obstacle, was in 
the woods and villages south-east of Elsasshausen, with re- 
serves in the rear which, says the German official narrative, 
together with the open country, were a sufficient guard 
against a direct flank attack, an opinion not justified by 
the result* The Sauer was deep, the bridges had been 
broken, and the ascents on the French side were prolonged, 
except on one point, and swept by musketry and cannon. 
Among the vines and copses, in the villages and farmsteads, 
everywhere protected by open ground, over which an 


assailant must pass, stood the French Armj — ^Ducrot on 
tlie left, facing north-west, Eaoult in the centre, Lartigue 
on the right, having behind him. Conseil - Dumesnil's 
division of the 7th Corps. Pell^, who succeeded Abel 
Douay. was in reserve ; and the cavalry were partly in tear 
of the right, and partly, behind the centre. The official 
German history speaks of the position as especially strong, 
regards the mass of troops seated there, put down at forty- 
five thousand men, as amply sufficient for a vigorous 
defence, and contends that the defect of numbers was 
balanced by a respectable artillery and the superiority of 
the Chassepot over the far-famed needle-gun. A Bavarian 
soldier-author, Captain Hugo Helvig, however, says that 
the groimd held by the French had all the disadvantages 
of so-called " unassailable *' positions — ^it had no issues to 
the front, consequently the defenders could not become the 
assailants ; its right was '' in the air " and its left " rested 
on that most doubtful of all supports to wings — a wood." 
Thus the Bavarian captain differs from the General Staff. 
The fact seems to be that the position was so formidable 
that it could only be carried by onsets on both flanks, which, 
of course, implies that the assailant must have the control 
of superior numbers. Another point to be noted is that 
the great road to Bitsche was a prolongation of the front 
and in rear of the left, and that, as happened, in case of a 
severe defeat, the temptation would be all powerful to re- 
treat by cross roads on Saveme, that is, away from instead 
of towards the main body of the Imperial Army. Marshal 
MacMahon had hoped to be the assailant, but he held that 
if the German Army continued its march southward beyond 
Hagenau, he would have to retreat, a movement the 
Crown Prince was not likely to make, since the orders 
from the King's head-quarters were to seek out and fight 
the enemy wherever he might be found, a rule which 


govemed all the German operations up to the fatal day of 

Early on the morning of the 6th, the German columns 
were approaching, from the north and the east, the strong 
position just described. Hartmann's Bavarians, after 
marching westward through the Hochwald to Mattstal, 
had turned south .down the Sulzbach. The 5th Corps, in 
position overnight at Preitschdorf , had, of course, strong 
advanced posts between Goersdorf and Dieftenbach, while 
Yon der Tann's Bavarians were on the march from Ingols- 
heim, also through the lower Hochwald road, by Lamperts- 
loch upon Goersdorf and the Saner. Further to the left, 
the 11th Corps and Yon Werder's combined divisions 
were wheeling up to the right, so as to extend the line 
on the outer flank of the 5th Corps. The Hochwald rose 
five or six hundred feet above the battlefield. Like most 
uplands, it was intersected by vales and country roads, and 
nearly every hollow had its beck which flowed into the 
principal stream. This was the Sauer. Rising in hills 
beyond Lembach, it ran in a southerly direction along the 
whole German front, receiving the Sulz at Woerth, and 
dividing into two streams opposite Gunstett. These greater 
and lesser brooks, though spanned by few bridges, were well 
supplied with mills, which always facilitate the passage of 
streams. Large villages, also, filled up the valley bottoms 
here and there, and the country abounded in cultivation. 
Through this peopled and industrious region the main 
roads ran from north to south, generally speaking, the road 
and railway from Bitsche to Hagenau, and on to Strasburg, 
passing in rear of MacMahon's position close to Niederbronn 
and Beichshofen, and another highway to Hagenau, a 
common centre for roads in these parts, descended from 
Lembach, and, after crossing, followed the right bank of 
the Sauer. Thus there were plenty of communications in 

CHAP, v.] TWO STAGGfeRM?a BtO^P^Si lOl 

all directions, despite the elevated, wooded and broken 
character of a district, wherein all arms could move freely, 
except cavalry. 

The BaMh Begins, 

The action was brought on by the eagerness of each side 
to discover the strength and intentions of the other. In 
this way, General vonWalther, at daybreak, riding towards 
the Sauer, hearing noises in the French camp, which he 
construed to mean preparations for a retreat, ordered out a 
battery and some infantry, to test the accuracy of his ob- 
servations. The guns cannonaded Woerth, and the 
skirmishers, finding the town unoccupied, but the bridge 
broken, forded the stream, and advanced far enough to draw 
fire from the French foot and four batteries. The Prussian 
guns, though fewer, displayed that superiority over the 
French which they maintained throughout, and the ob- 
servant officers above Woerth knew, by the arrival of the 
ambulance men on the opposite hills, that their shells had 
told upon the enemy. The skirmish ceased after an hour 
had passed, but it served to show that the French were 
still in position. Opposite Gunstett there stood a Bruch- 
Miihle, or mill in the marsh, and in this place the Germans 
had posted a company, supported by another in the vines. 
Their purpose was to protect the left flank of the 5th 
Corps, and keep up a conne<^tion with the 11th, then on 
the march. The French sent forward, twice, bodies of 
skirmishers against the mill, supporting them the second 
time by artillery, and setting the mill on fire ; but on 
neither occasion did they press the attack, and the Germans 
retained a .point of passage which proved useful later in 
the day. 

These afEairs at Woerth and Gunstett ceased about eight 

» • » 

10a\ ^ :'.'; ; - vXHj:i CA^JPi^iG^ OF sedan. [chap. v. 

o'clock, but the cannonade at the former, echoing among 
the hills to the north, brought the Bavarians down the 
Sulz at a sharp pace, and thus into contact with Ducrot's 
division. For General Hartmann, on the highlands, could 
see the great camp about Froesch wilier, and, directing his 
4th Division on that place, and ordering up the reserve 
artillery from Mattstal, the General led his men quickly 
down the valley. An ineffective exchange of cannon-shots 
at long range ensued ; but as the Bavarians emerged into 
the open, they came within reach of the French artillery. 
Nevertheless they persisted, until quitting the wood, they 
were overwhelmed by the Chassepot and fell back. A stiff 
conflict now arose on a front between Neehwiller and the 
Saw Mill on the Sulz, and even on the left bank of this 
stream, down which the leading columns of a Bavarian 
brigade had made their way. In short, Hartmann's zealous 
soldiers, working forward impetuously, had fairly fastened 
on to the French left wing, striking it on the flank which 
formed an angle to the main line of battle, and holding it 
firmly on the ground. The French, however, had no thought 
of retiring, and besides, at that moment, they had the 
vantage. When the combat had lasted two hours, Geneiul 
von Hartmann received an order directing him to break it 
off, and he began at once his preparations to withdraw. 
The task was not easy, and before it was far advanced a 
request arrived from the Commander of the 5th Corps for 
support, as he was about to assail the heights above Woerth. 
It was heartily complied with, all the more readily, as the 
roar of a fierce cannonade to the south swejpt up the valley ; 
but as the Bavarians had begun to withdraw, some time 
elapsed before the engagement on this side could be 
strenuously renewed. 


Attach on Woerth, 
We have already said that the Crown Prince, not having 
all his Corps in compact order, did not intend to fight a 
battle until the next daj. But what befell was this. The 
officer at the head of the staff of the 5th Corps reached 
the front after the reconnaissance on Woerth was over. 
Just as he rode up, the smoke of Hartmann's guns was 
visible on one side, and the noise of the skirmishers at 
Gunstett on the other. In order to prevent the French 
from overwhelming either, it was agreed, there and then, 
to renew the contest, and shortly after nine o'clock the 
artillery of the 5th Corps, ranged on the heights, opened 
fire. At the same time, a portion of the 11th Corps, 
hearing the guns, had moved up rapidly towards G-unstett, 
and three of their batteries were soon in line. Thus, the 
Bavarians rushed into battle in order to support the 5th 
Corps, this body resumed the combat to sustain the 
Bavarians, and the advanced guard of the 11th fell on 
promptly, because the 5th seemed in peril The Prussian 
artillery soon quelled, not the ardour, but the fire of the 
French gunners ; and then the infantry, both in the centre 
and on the left, went steadily into action, passing through 
Woerth, and beginning to creep up the opposite heights. 
They made no way, and many men fell, while further down 
the stream, opposite Spachbach and Gunstett, part of the 
troops which had gone eagerly towards the woods, were 
smitten severely, and driven back headlong over the river. 
Still some climg to the hollow ways, Woerth was always 
held fast, and when the foot recoiled before the telling 
Chassepot, the eighty -four pieces in battery lent their aid, 
averted serious pursuit, and flung a shower of shells into 
the woods. It was at this period that the defect of the 
French position became apparent. If the hardy Guuls 


could repel an onset, they could not, in turn, deliver a 
counter stroke, because the advantages of the defensive 
would pass, in that case, to the adversary. But the Ger- 
mans across the Sauer, who still held their ground, had 
much to endure, and were only saved by the arrival of fresh 
troops, and by seeking every available shelter from the in- 
cessant rifle flre. In the meantime, the 11th Corps was 
marching to the sound of the guns. General von Bose, 
its commander, had reached Gunstett in the forenoon, and, 
seeing how matters stood, had called up his nearest division, 
had ordered the other to advance on the left, and had in- 
formed Von Werder that an action had begun, in conse- 
quence whereof the Badeners and Wurtembergers were also 
directed on the Sauer. 

It was about one o'clock when the Crown Prince rode up 
to the front and took command. He had ridden out from 
Soultz at noon, because he plainly heard the soimds of 
conflict, and on his road had been met by an officer from 
Von Kirchbach, bearing a report which informed the Com- 
mander-in-Chief that it was no longer possible to stop the 
fray. At the time he arrived, the advanced brigade of Von 
der Tann's Bavarians had thrust itself into the gap between 
Preuschdorf and Goersdorf , and had brought three batteries 
into action, but the remainder of the Corps were still in the 
rear. The Crown Prince thus found his front line engaged 
without any reserve close at hand, and that no progress had 
been made either on the centre or the wings ; but he knew 
that the latter would be quickly reinforced, and that the 
former, sustained by two hundred guns, constituted an 
ample guarantee against an offensive movement. No better 
opportunity of grappling with a relatively weak enemy was 
likelv to occur, and it was to be feared that if the chance 
were offered, he would escape from a dangerous situation 
by skilfully extricating his Army. The Crown Prince, 


therefore, determined to strike home, yet qualifying his 
boldness with caution, he still wished to delay the attack in 
front and flank until the troops on the march could reach 
the battlefield. No such postponement was practicable, 
even if desirable, because the fighting Commander of the 
5th Corps had already, before the advice came to hand, 
flung his foremost brigades over the Sauer. So the action 
was destined to be fought out, from beginning to end, on 
places extemporized by subordinate officers ; but they were 
adapted to the actual facts, and in accordance with the 
main idea which was sketched by the Chief. It may be 
said, indeed, that the battle of Woerth was brought on, 
worked out, and completed by the Corps commanders; 
and the cheerful readiness with which they supported each 
other, furnished indisputable testimony to the soundness 
of their training, the excellence of the bodies they com- 
manded, and the formidable character, as well as the 
suppleness of the military institutions, which, if not 
founded, had been carried so near to perfection by Von 
Soon, Yon Moltke and the King. 

Begun in the early morning by a series of skirmishes on 
the river front, the action had developed into a battle 
at mid-day. The resolute Yon Kirchbach, acting on his 
own responsibility, had thrown the entire 5th Corps into 
the fight ; yet so strong was the position occupied by 
the defenders, that a successful issue depended upon the 
rapidity and energy with which the assaults on both flanks 
were conducted by brigades and divisions only then enter- 
ing one after the other upon a fiercely contested field. At 
mid-day, the French line of battle had been nowhere broken 
or imperilled. Hartmann's Bavarians on one side had 
been checked; the advance brigade of the 11th Corps, 
on the other, had been driven back over the Sauer, and 
Lartigue's troops were actually pressing upon the bridges 


near the mill in the marsh, which, however, they could not 
pass. The enormous line of German guns restrained and 
punished the French infantry, when not engaged in silenc- 
ing the inferior artillery of the defender. But no impres- 
sion had been made upon the wooded heights filled with 
the soldiers of Ducrot, upon Eaoult's men in the centre 
above Woerth, or on Lartigue's troops, who, backed by 
Conseil-Dumesnil, stood fast about Morsbronn, Eberbach, 
and Elsasshausen. So it was at noon, when the hardihood 
of Yon Kirchbach forced on a decisive issue. Passing his 
men through, and on both sides of Woerth, he began a 
series of sustained attacks upon Eaoult, who stiffly con- 
tested every foot of woodland, and even repelled the assail- 
ants, who, nevertheless, fighting with perseverance, and 
undismayed by the slaughter, gradually gained a little 
ground on both sides of the road to Froeschwiller. By 
comparatively slow degrees, they crept up the slopes, and 
established a front of battle ; but the regiments, battalions, 
companies, were all mixed together, and, as the officers fell 
fast, the men had often to depend upon themselves. While 
these alternately advancing, receding, and yet again advanc- 
ing troops were grappling with the centre, Hartmann re- 
newed his onsets, part of Von der Tann's Corps dashed 
over the Sauer, filling up the gap in the line, and joining 
his right to Hartmann*s left; and the leading brigades 
of a fresh division of the 11th Corps, moving steadily 
and swiftly over the river below Gunstett, backed by all 
the cannon which the nature of the ground permitted the 
gunners to use, assailed the French right with measured 
and sustained fury, and, indeed, decided the battle. 

Attack on the French right. 
The French were posted in great force on their right 
— ^where they had two divisions, one in rear of the other. 


between the Sauer and the Eberbach, haying in support a 
powerful brigade of horsemen, Cuirassiers and Lancers, 
under General Michel. The infantry, as a rule, faced to 
the eastward ; while the attacking columns not only fronted 
to the westward, but also to the north-west; in other 
words, they fastened on the front from Spachbach, struck 
diagonally at the outer flank from Morsbronn, and even 
swept round towards the rear. The area of the combat on 
this part of the field was included on an oblong space 
bounded on the west by the Eberbach, and on the east by 
the Sauer, having Morsbronn at the south-eastern angle 
and outside the French lines ; Albrechtshauser, a large 
farmstead, a httle to the north of the former, and opposite 
Gunstett; and beyond that point to the north-west the 
undulating wooded uplands, called the Niederwald, whence 
the ground slightly fell towards Elsasshausen, and rose 
again to a greater height at Froeschwiller, the centre and 
redoubt of the position. As the 22nd Division of the 11th 
Corps came up from Durrenbach, they broke obliquely 
into this oblong, the direction of their attack mainly follow* 
ing the cross road through the forest from Morsbronn to 
Elsasshausen, while their comrades pierced the woods to 
the north of the great farmstead. No difficulty was en- 
countered in expelling the handful of French from the 
village, but at the farm the Germans had a sharper combat, 
which they won by a converging movement, yet the de- 
fenders had time to retire into the forest. Thus two useful 
supports were secured, almost perpendicular to the French 
flank, and the pathways leading towards Eeichshofen were 
uncovered. General Lartigue at once discerned the peril* 
and, in order that he might obtain time to throw back his 
right, he directed General Michel to charge the left flank of 
the Germans before they could recover from the confusion 
consequent on a rapid and irregular advance through the 


villages, outbuildings, and hopfields, and array a less 
broken front. 

The French cavalry appear to have considered that their 
main function was restricted to combats in great battles. 
The traditions handed down from the days of Kellerman 
and Murat and Lasalle survived in all their freshness, and 
the belief prevailed that a charge of French horseman, 
pushed home, would ride over any infantry, even in serried 
formation. They had disdained to reckon with the breech- 
loader in the hands of cool, well-disciplined opponents; 
and as their chance of acting on their convictions had 
come, so they were ready and willing to prove how strong 
and genuine was their faith in the headlong valour of 
resolute cavaliers. Instead of using one regiment, Michel 
employed both, and a portion of the 6th Lancers as well. 
He started forth from his position near Eberbach, his 
horsemen formed in echelon from the right, the 8th Cuiras- 
siers leading in column of squadrons, followed by the 9th 
and the Lancers. Unluckily for them, they had to traverse 
ground unsuitable for cavalry. Here groups of trees, there 
stumps, and again deep drains, disjointed the close forma- 
tions, and when they emerged into better galloping ground, 
indeed before they had quitted the obstructions, these 
gallant fellows were exposed to the deadly fire of the 
needle-gun. Nevertheless, with fiery courage, the Cuiras- 
siers dashed upon the scattered German infantry, who, 
until the cavalry approached, had been under a hail of 
shot from the Chassepots in the Niederwald. Yet the 
Teutons did not quail, form square, or run into groups — 
they stood stolidly in line, hurled out a volley at three 
hundred yards, and then smote the oncoming horsemen 
with unintermitted fire. The field was soon strewn with 
dead and wounded men and horses ; yet the survivors 
rushed on, and sought safety by riding round the Gkrman 


line or through the village, where they were brought to bay, 
and captured by the score. Each ' regiment, as it rode 
hardily into the fray, met with a similar fate, and even the 
fugitives who got into the rear were encountered by a 
Prussian Hussar regiment, and still further scattered, so 
that very few ever wandered back into the French lines. 
As a charge Michel's valiant onset was fruitless ; yet the 
sacrifice of so many brave horsemen secured a great object 
— ^it enabled General Lartigue to throw back his right, re- 
arrange his defensive line in the woods, and renew the con- 
test by a series of violent counter-attacks. 

A furious outburst of the French infantry from the 
south-west angle of the Niederwald overpowered the Ger- 
man infantry, and drove them completely out of the farm- 
stead so recently won. Yet the victors could not hold the 
place, because the batteries north of Q-unstett at once 
struck and arrested them with a heavy fire, which gave 
time for fresh troops to move rapidly into line, restore the 
combat, and once more press back the dashing French in- 
&ntry into the wood. On this point the fighting was 
rough and sustained, for the French charged again and 
again, and did not give way until the Germans on their 
right, forcing their way through the wood, had crowned a 
summit which turned the Hne. The sturdy adversary, who 
yielded slowly, was now within the forest, and the €brman 
troops on the left had come up to Eberbach, capturing 
MacMahon's baggage, thus developing a connected front 
from stream to stream across the great woodland. In 
short, nearly all the 11th Corps was solidly arrayed, and 
in resistless motion upon the exposed flank of Mac- 
Mahon's position, while part of the Wurtembergers, with 
some horse, were stretching forward beyond the Eber- 
bach, and heading for Beichshofen itself. The Germans^ 
indeed, had gained the north-western border of the wood- 


land, and General von Bose had ordered the one-half of 
his guns and his reserve of foot to cross the Sauer, and 
push the battle home. His right was now in connection 
with the left of the 5th Corps, which had continued its 
obstinate and sanguinary conflict with Raoult's division on 
both sides of the road from Woerth to Froeschwiller, with- 
out mastering much ground. As the Bavarians were 
equally held at bay by the French left, the issue of the 
battle plainly depended on the vigorous and unfaltering 
energies of the 11th Corps. 

Attack on Elscbsshausen. 
That fine body had been in action for two hours and a 
half, and, despite a long march on to the field, was still 
fresh, its too impetuous advanced brigade, alone, having 
been roughly handled, and thrust back earlier in the day. 
The task now before them was the capture of Elsasshausen, 
which would open the road to Froeschwiller, take off the 
pressure from the 5th Corps, place Ducrot's steadfast 
infantry in peril, and enable the whole available mass of 
German troops to close in upon the outnumbered remnant of 
MacMahon's devoted Army. For these brave men, although 
obliged to give ground, were fighting in a manner worthy 
of their old renown, now dashing forward in vehement 
onslaughts, again striking heavy blows when overpowered 
and thrust back. Lartigue*s and some of Baoult's troops 
stood on the right and left of Elsasshausen, supported by 
batteries on the higher ground, and two cavalry brigades 
in a hollow near the Eberbach. The foremost infantry 
occupied a copse which was separated from the main forest 
by a little glade, and this defensive wooded post had, so 
far, brought the extreme right of the 11th Corps to a 
stand. About half -past two, the centre and left had come 


up to the north-western edge of the Niederwald, and thus 
the French in the copse had fresh foes on their hands. 
Thej replied bj a bold attack upon the adversary, whose 
front lines of skirmishers were immediately driven in. 
The gallant effort carried the assailants into the great 
wood, but not far ; for behind the flying skirmishers, on 
both sides of the road, were troops which had more or less 
maintained a compact formation. Instead of yielding 
before the French advance, the Q-erman infantry, accepting 
the challenge, came steadily forward along the whole front, 
bore down the skirmishers, dispersed the supporting bat- 
talion, and, following the enemy with unfaltering steps, 
crossed the glade, and drove him into, and out of, the 
copse- wood, which had hitherto been an impassable obstacle. 
As the entire line rushed forward, they arrived at the skirt 
of the wood, and, coming at once xmder the fire of the 
French guns on the heights, and the infantry in Elsass- 
hausen, they suffered severe losses. Then their own artil- 
lery drove up and went into action, setting the village on 
fire, yet not dismaying its garrison. The tension was so 
great, and the men fell so fast, that General von Bose 
resolved to risk a close attack upon an enemy whose 
position was critical, and whose endurance had been put to 
so exhausting a strain. 

Thereupon, at the welcome signal, the bands of dis- 
ordered foot soldiers — for nearly every atom of regular 
formation had long disappeared — dashed, with loud shouts, 
into the French position, carrying the village at a bound, 
and, pushing up the hillsides, took two guns and five 
mitrailleuses. The troops of the 11th had now crossed 
the deep road running south-westward from Woerth, had 
effected a junction with groups of several regiments be- 
longing to the 5th, which formed a sort of spray upon 
the inner flank; and had besides, as already noted, ex- 


tended soutli- westward towards the road to Eeiclisliofen. 
Once more the French strove, if .not to retrieve a lost 
battle, at least to insure time for retreat. They fell upon 
the Germans along the whole line, making great gaps in 
its extent, and driving the adversary into the forest ; but 
here, again, the artillery saved the foot, and, by its daring 
and effective fire, restored the battle, giving the much- 
tried infantry time to rally, and return upon their tracks. 
The Germans had barely time to recover from the con- 
fusion into which they had been thrown by a furious onset, 
than the four Cuirassier regiments, commanded by General 
Bonnemains, were seen preparing to charge. Unluckily for 
these stout horsemen, the tract over which they had to 
gallop was seamed with deep ditches, and barred by rows 
of low trees, so that not only could no compact formation 
be maintained, but the cavaliers were not, in some in- 
stances, able to reach their foes, who were well sheltered 
among the vine-stocks, and behind the walls of the hop- 
gardens. Moreover, the German infantry were assisted by 
batteries of guns, which were able to begin with shells, and 
end with grape-shot. The cavalry did all they could to close ; 
but their efforts were fruitless, and the enormous loss they 
endured may be fairly regarded as a sacrifice willingly 
made to gain time for the now hardly bested army to 

MacMahon Orders a Metreat, 
Indeed, the hour when a decision must be taken had 
struck, and MacMahon, who had cleverly fought his battle, 
did not hesitate. He determined to hold Froeschwiller as 
long as he could to cover the retreat, and then fly to 
Saveme. For, although neither Hartmann nor Von der 
Tann, despite their desperate onsets, had been able to shake 


or dismay Ducrot, still, he was well aware that Baoult's and 
Lartigue's divisions had been driven back upon Froesch- 
willer, and he could see from the heights one fresh column 
of Bavarians moving towards Neehwiller, on his left, and 
another descending from the Hochwald to join the throng 
on the right bank of the Sulz. Moreover, two brigades 
of Wurtembergers had come up to support the 11th 
Corps, and one part of them, with horsemen and guns, 
threatened Eeichshofen,. a Bavarian brigade, as we have 
said, was heading for Niederbronn. In addition, some of 
Ducrot's intrenchments were carried by a Prussian 
Begiment on the right of the 5th Corps, and it was 
evident that the fierce struggle for Froeschwiller would be 
the last and final act of the tragedy. Yet, so slowly did 
the French recede, that an hour or more was consumed in 
expelling them from their last stronghold ; and except on 
that point, their does not seem to have been any serious 
fighting. The reason was that the place was held to 
facilitate the withdrawal of such troops as could gain the 
line of retreat, and although the disaster was great, it 
would have been greater had not Baoult, who was wounded 
and captured in the village, done his uttermost to with- 
Btand the concentric rush of his triumphant enemies. 

The Close of the Battle, 
No specific and detailed account, apparently, exists, of 
this last desperate stand. But it is plain that, as the 
French centre and right yielded before Von Kirchbach and 
especially Von Bose, as the impetuous infantry onsets were 
fruitless, as the cavalry had been destroyed and the French 
guns could not bear up against the accurate and constant 
fire of their opponents, so the Germans swept onwards and 
almost encircled their foes. When Ducrot began to retire, 



the Bavarians sprang forward up the steeps and through 
the woods, which had held them so long at bay ; the stout 
and much-tried 5th Corps pushed onward, and the 11th, 
already on the outskirts of Froeschwiller and extending 
beyond it, broke into its south-eastern and southern de- 
fences ; so that portions of all the troops engaged in this 
sanguinary battle swarmed in, at last, upon the devoted 
band who hopelessly, yet nobly, clung to the final barrier. 
How bravely and steadfastly they fought may be inferred 
from the losses inflicted upon the Germans, whose officers, 
foremost among the confused crowd of mingled regiments 
and companies, where heavily punished, whose rank and 
file went down in scores. Even after the day had been 
decided, the French in Froeschwiller still resisted, and the 
combats there did not cease until five o'clock. But in the 
open the Q-erman flanking columns had done great execu- 
tion on the line of retreat. A mixed body of Prussian and 
Wurtemberg cavalry had ridden up on the extreme left, 
one Bavarian brigade had moved through Neehwiller upon 
Niederbronn, and another had marched through Froesch- 
willer upon Eeichshofen. The horsemen kept the fugi- 
tives in motion and captured materiel ; l^e first mentioned 
Bavarian brigade struck the division of General Guyot de 
Lespart, which had reached Niederbronn from Bitsche; 
and the second bore down on Beichshof en. The succouring 
division had arrived only in time to share the common 
calamity, for assailed by the Bavarians and embarrassed by 
the flocks of fugitives, one-half retreated with them upon 
Saverne, and the other hastily retraced its steps to Bitsche, 
marching through the summer night. The battle had been 
so destructive and the pursuit so sharp that the wrecks of 
MacMahon's shattered host hardly halted by day or night 
until they had traversed the country roads leading upon 
Saverne, whence they could gain the western side of the 


Vosges. Nor did all his wearied soldiers follow tliis path 
of safety. Many fled through Hagenau to Strasburg, 
more retreated with the brigade of Abbatucci to Bitsche, 
and nine thousand two hundred officers and men remained 
behind as prisoners of war. The Marshal's Armj was 
utterly ruined, Strasburg was uncovered, the defiles of the 
Vosges, except that of Phalsbourg, were open to the invader 
who, in addition to the mass of prisoners, seized on the 
field, in some cases after a brilliant combat, twenty-eight 
guns, five mitrailleuses, one eagle, four flags, and much 
materiel of war. The actual French loss in killed and 
wounded during the fight did not exceed six thousand; 
while the victors, as assailants, had no fewer than 489 
officers and 10,153 men killed and wounded. It was a 
heavy penalty, and represents the cost of a decisive battle 
when forced on by the initiative of Corps commanders 
before the entire force available for such an engagement 
could be mai'ched up within striking distance of a confident 
and expectant foe. 

One other consequence of an unforeseen engagement was 
that the 5th Division of cavalry, which would have been 
so useful towards the close of the day, was unable to enter 
the field until nightfall. The Crown Prince and General 
Blumenthal, not having the exact information which might 
have been supplied by horsemen who rode at the heels of 
the fugitives, remained in doubt as to the line or lines of 
retreat which they followed. It was not until the next 
day that reports were sent in which suggested rather than 
described whither the French Army had gone. Prince 
Albrecht, who led the cavalry, had hastened forward to 
Ingweiler,on the road to Saveme, but he notified that, thougl 
a considerable body had fled by this route, the larger par 
had retired towards Bitsche. Later on the 7th he entered 
Steinburg, where he was in contact with the enemy, but, as 


infantry were seen, he was apprehensive of a night attack 
from Saveme, and judged it expedient to fall back upon 
Buchswiller. The division had ridden more than forty 
miles in a difficult country during the day. Prom the 
north-west came information that the patrols of the 6th 
Corps had been met at Dambach, and that the French were 
not visible anywhere. The explanation of this fact is that 
one division of the 6th, directed on Bitsche, had, in antici- 
pation of orders, pushed troops into the hills, and had thus 
touched the right of the main body. The reason why 
neither MacMahon nor De Failly were discovered was that 
the Marshal had fallen back to Sarrebourg, and that the 
General had hurried to join him by Petite-Pierre; and 
thus contact with the enemy was lost by the Germans be- 
cause the defiles of the Yosges were left without defenders. 

2. — SpicTieren. 
As the critical hours drew nearer when the capacity of 
the Emperor Napoleon and Marshal Leboeuf, applied to 
the conduct of a great war, was to be put to the severest 
test, so their hesitation increased and their inherent unfit- 
ness for the heavy task became more and more apparent. 
Marshal Bazaine had been intrusted with the command of 
three corps " for military operations only," yet the supreme 
control was retained in Metz, and the Corps commanders 
looked more steadily in that direction than they did towards 
the Marshal's head-quarters at St. Avoid. Along the 
whole front, at every point, an attack by the enemy was 
apprehended. General de Ladmirault was convinced that 
the 7th Prussian Corps would strive to turn his left ; 
Marshal Bazaine was disturbed by the fear that the same 
body of troops would come upon him from Saarlouis; 
General Froesard felt so uncomfortable in the angle or 


curve on the Saar, which he occupied, that he vehemently 
desired to see the Army concentrated in the position of 
Cadenbronn, a few miles to the rear of Spicheren ; Qeneral 
MontaudoD, who had a division at Sarreg^emines, was 
certain that the enemy intended to' swoop down upon him ; 
and General de Failly was in daily alarm lest the Prussians 
should advance upon the gap of Rohrbach: At Metz all 
these conflicting surmises weighed upon, we might almost 
say collectively gaverned the Emperor and the Marshal, 
who issued, recalled, qualified, and again issued perplexing 
orders. It is true that, owing to the supineness of the 
cavah-y, and the indifference of the peasantry on the border, 
they were without any authentic information ; but if that 
had been supplied it is very doubtful whether they would 
have been able to profit by it ; and they were evidently 
unable to reason out a sound plan which would give them 
the best chances of thwarting the adversary's designs or of 
facing them on the best terms. The sole idea which pre- 
vailed was that every line should be protected ; and thus, 
on the 5th, the Guard was at Courcelles ; Bazaine's four 
divisions, hitherto echeloned on the line from St. Avoid 
to Forbach, were strung out on a country road between St. 
Avoid and Sarreguemines ; De Ladmirault, who had been 
ordered to approach the Marshal, misled by the apparition 
of Prussian patrols, gave only a partial effect to the order ; 
while Frossard, on the evening of that day, instead of the 
next morning, made those movements to the rear which 
attracted the notice of his opponents and drew them upon 
him. At dawn on the 6th, " the Army of the Ehine " was 
posted over a wide space in loosely-connected groups ; yet, 
despite all the errors committed, there were still three 
divisions sufficiently near the 2nd Corps on the Spicheren 
heights to have converted the coming defeat into a brilliant 
victory. That great opportunity was lost, because the 


soldierlj spirit and the warlike training, in wMcli the 
French were deficient, were displayed to such an aston- 
ishing degree by the Germans whom thej had so unwisely 

The watchful cavalry on the right bank of the Saar had 
noted at once the retrograde movement which General 
Frossard effected on the evening of the 5th, and the German 
leaders were led to infer from the tenour of the reports 
sent in, that the whole French line was being shifted to the 
rear, which was not a correct inference at that moment. 
Yet it was true and obvious that Frossard had withdrawn 
from the hills in close proximity to Saarbruck. In ordei 
to ascertain, if possible, how far and in what degree the 
French had retired, small parties of horsemen crossed the 
river soon after daylight, and rode, not only along the 
direct route to Forbach, until they were stopped by cannon 
fire, but swept round the left flank, and even looked into 
the rear, observed the French camps, and alarmed both 
Marshal Bazaine and General de Ladmirault. Above 
Sarreguemines they tried to break up the railway, and did 
destroy the telegraph ; and thus, by appearing on all sides, 
these enterprising mounted men filled the adversary with 
apprehensions, and supplied their own Generals with sound 
intelligence. Some information, less inaccurate than usual, 
must have reached the Imperial head-quarters at Metz, 
seeing that a telegram sent thence, between four and five 
in the morning, warned Frossard that he might be seriously 
attacked in the course of the day ; but it does not appear 
that the same caution was transmitted to Bazaine, with or 
without instructions to support his comrade. It is a nice 
question whether the geneitil conduct of the war suffered 
the greater damage from the active interference or the 
negligence of the Emperor and his staff. 

While the cavalry were keeping the French well in view, 


the leading columns of the 7th and 8th Corps were moving 
up towards the Saar, and one division of the Third was 
equaUj on the alert. General von Bheinbaben had al- 
ready ridden over the unbroken bridges, had posted 
some squadrons on the lower ground, and had drawn, a 
sharp fire from the French guns. The German staff were 
astonished when they learned that the bridges had not 
been injured. The reason was soon apparent. The 
Emperor still cherished the illusion that he might be able 
to assume the offensive, a course he had prepared for by 
collecting large magazines at Forbach and Sarreguemines 
on the very edge of the frontier; and his dreams were now 
to be dispelled by the rude touch of the zealous and master- 
ful armies whose active outposts were now over the Saar. 

The Battle-field. 
The ground occupied by the 2nd Corps was an undulat- 
ing upland lying between the great road to Metz and the 
river, which, running in a northerly direction from the 
spurs of the Vosges, turns somewhat abruptly to the west 
a couple of miles above Saarbruck on its way to the Moselle. 
The heights of Spicheren, partly wooded and partly bare, 
fall sharply to the stream in the front and on the eastern 
flank, while on the west lies the hollow through which the 
highway and the railroad have been constructed. The 
foremost spur of the mass, separated by a valley from the 
Spicheren hills, is a narrow rocky eminence, which Frossard 
names the Spur, and the Germans call the Botheberg, or 
Eed Hill, because its cliffs were so bright in colour, and 
shone out conspicuously from afar. On the French right 
of this rugged cliff were dense woods, and on the left the 
vale, having beyond it more woods, and towards Forbach, 
farms, houses and factories. The upper or southern end 


was almost dosed by the large yillage of Stiring-Wendel, 
inhabited by workers in iron, and having on the outskirts 
those unseemly mounds of slag with which this useful in- 
dustry defaces the aspect of nature. The village stands 
between the road and railway, and as the heights rise 
abruptly on each side, all the approaches, except those 
through the woods on the west and north-west, were com- 
manded by the guns and infantry on the slopes. It should 
be noted that west of the neck which connected the red 
horse-shoe shaped hill with the central heights in front of 
Spicheren village, there is a deep, irr^ular, transversal 
valley, which proved useful to the defence. General 
Frossard placed Laveaucoupet's division upon the Spicheren 
hills, in two lines, and occupied the Bed Hill, which he 
had intrenched, with a battalion of Chasseurs. In rear of 
all stood Bataille's division at (Etingen. On the left front, 
Jolivet's brigade of Vei^^s division occupied Stiring, and 
Yalaze's was placed to the west of Forbach, looking down 
the road to Saarlouis. As Frossard dreaded an attack' 
from that side, especially as the road up the valley from 
Bosseln turned the position, his engineer-general threw up 
a long intrenchment, barring the route. It was in this 
order that the 2nd Corps stood when some daring German 
horsemen trotted up the high road to feel for it, while 
others, on the west, pressed so far forward that they dis- 
cerned the camps at St. Avoid. Below the front of the 
position, and just outside Saarbruck, the foot-hills, £ep- 
pertsberg, Gkklgenberg, Winterberg, and so on, and the 
hollows among them were unoccupied by the French, and 
it was into and upon these that Kheinbaben pushed with 
his cavalry and guns, which, from the Parade ground, ex- 
changed shots with the French pieces established on the 
Bed Hill or Spur. 


The Ctermans begin the Fight. 
Oti the German side, the determination to lay hands 
upon, and arrest what was supposed to be a retreating 
enemy, was identical and simultaneous; and it is the 
spontaneous actiyity of every officer and soldier within 
reach, to share in the conflict which is the characteristic 
of the day's operations. General Kameke, commanding 
the 14th Division, 7th Corps, when on the march, heard 
that Frossard had drawn back, and, asking whether he 
might cross the river, was told to act on his own judg- 
ment ; so he pressed southward. General G-oeben, chief 
of the 8th Corps, had ridden out to judge for himself, and 
finding his comrades of the 7th ready to advance, offered 
his support. General von Alvensleben, commanding the 
3rd Corps, a singularly alert and ready officer, ordered 
up his 5th Division, commanded by General von Stiilp- 
nagel, but before the order arrived. General Doering, 
who had been early to the outposts, had anticipated the 
command, because he thought that Kameke might be 
overweighted. General von Schwerin, later in the day, 
collected his brigade at St. Ingbert, and sent a part of 
them forward by rail. In like manner General von 
Bamekoff, commanding the 16th Division, 8th Corps, 
hearing the sound of artillery, had anticipated the desire 
of Goeben, and by mid-day his advanced guard, under 
Colonel von Eex, was close upon the scene of action. 
General von Zastrow, who had permitted Kameke to do 
what he thought fit, applied to Von Steinmetz for leave to 
push forward the whole 7th Corps, and the fiery veteran 
at once complied, saying, "The enemy ought to be 
punished for his negligence," a characteristic yet not 
necessarily a wise speech, as the business of a General is 
not to chastise even the negligent, unless it serves the main 


purpose of the operations in hand. Thus we see that the 
mere noise of battle attracted the Germans from all 
quarters ; and hence it happened that the fronts of the 
two armies, then in line of march, hastened into a fight by 
degrees — in detachments, so to speak — which would have 
produced a heavy reverse had all the French brigade and 
divisional commanders who were within hail, been as 
prompt, persistent and zealous as their impetuous oppo- 

Until near noontide, there had been merely a bickering 
of outposts, chiefly on the north-western side ; and it was 
only when the 14th Division crossed the river and moved 
up the foothills, that the action really began. At this 
time it was still supposed that the battalions, batteries, and 
sections of horsemen visible were a rear-guard, covering 
what is now called the "entrainment" of troops at Forbach; 
for the greater part of Laveaucoupet's soldiers were below 
the crests, and in the forest-land, while Jolivet's brigade 
made no great show in and about the village of Stiring. 
Kameke's young soldiers went eagerly and joyously into 
their first battle. They consisted of six battalions, led by 
General von Fran9ois, and were soon extended from the 
Metz road on the German right, to the wooded ascents 
east of the Eed Hill, which, in reality, became the main 
object of attack. The plan followed was the favourite 
tactical movement, so often practised with success — a 
direct onset on the enemy's front, and an advance on both 
flanks. These operations were supported by the fire of 
three batteries, which soon obliged the French gunners on 
the Eed Spur to recede. An extraordinary and almost 
indescribable infantry combat now began over a wide space, 
sustained by the battalions of the 14th Division fighting 
by companies. On one side they endeavoured to approach 
Stiring ; in the centre they were a long time huddled 


together under the craigs of the Botheberg; further to 
the left thej dashed into the Giffert Wald, and emerged 
into comparatively open ground, only to find ihemselYes 
shattered by a heavy fire, and obliged to seek cover. For 
the battalions engaged soon discovered that» instead of 
a rear-guard, they had to encounter half a corps cTarmee ; 
and, although reinforcements were rapidly approaching, 
yet, as the afternoon wore on, it became evident that the 
assailants could only maintain their footing by displaying 
great obstinacy, and enduring bitter losses. After two 
hours' hard fighting five fresh battalions, belonging to 
Yon Woyna's brigade of Kameke's division came into 
action on the right, and sought to operate on the French 
left flank, some following the railway, others pressing 
into the thick woods on the west. The density of the 
copses threw the lines into confusion, so that the com. 
panies were blended, and, as guidance was almost im- 
possible, trust had to be reposed in the soldierly instincts 
and training alike of of&cers and men, and on the genuine 
comradeship so conspicuous throughout all ranks of the 
Prussian Army. Practically, at this moment, the French, 
although beset on all sides by their enterprising foes, had 
a distinct advantage, for they smote the venturesome 
columns as they emerged here and there, and it may be 
said that, between three and four o'clock, the German 
artillery on the Galgenberg and Folster Hohe, held the 
French in check, and averted an irresistible offensive 
movement. Yet the German infantry were tenacious; 
when pressed back they collected afresh in groups, and 
went on again ; and General Frossard was so impressed by 
the audacity of his foes, that he brought up Bat-aille's 
division from CEtingen, and directed Valaze to quit the 
hill above Forbach, and reinforce the defenders of Stiring. 
Indeed, threatened on both flanks, the whole of the 2nd 


Corps was gradually drawn into the fraj, and its com- 
mander, though somewhat late, appealed for aid to Mar- 
shal Bazaine, who himself did not feel secure at St. Avoid. 

The Bed Hill Stormed. 

Shortly after three o'clock, General von Francois, obey- 
ing the orders of his chief, Von Kameke, resolved to storm 
the Eed Hill. The German leader was under the im- 
pression that the French were yielding on all sides, which 
was not strictly correct, for the fresh troops were just 
coming into action, and the Germans were superior, alone, 
in the range and accuracy of their superb artillery. The 
gallant Fran9ois, sword in hand, leading the Fusilier 
battalion of the 74th Begiment, climbed the steep, spring- 
ing from ledge to ledge, and dashed over the crest, and 
drove the surprised French chasseurs out of the foremost 
intrenchment, and fastened themselves firmly on the hill. 
The Chasseurs, who had retired into a second line of 
defences, poured in a murderous fire ; General von Fran9ois, 
heading a fresh onset, fell pierced by five bullets, yet 
lived long enough to feel that his Fusiliers and a company 
of the 39th, which had clambered up on the left, had 
gained a foothold they were certain to maintain. There 
were many brilliant acts of heroism on that day, but the 
storming of the Bed Hill stands out as the finest example 
of soldiership and daring. Nor less so the stubbornness 
with which the stormers stood fast; especially as the 
French, at that moment, had thrown a body of troops 
against the German left, so strong and aggressive, that 
the valiant companies in the Giffert Wald were swept 
clean out of the wood. 

Fortunately, at the same time, the advanced guards 
of the 5th and 16th Divisions, already referred to, had 


crossed the Saar. General Yon Goeben, who had also 
arrived, took command, and formed a strong resolution. 
He decided that, as the battle had reached a critical stage, 
it would be unwise to keep reserves ; so he flung everything 
to hand into the fight, on the ground that the essential 
thing was to impart new life to a combat which had become 
indecisive, if not adverse to the assailant. Accordingly, 
the artillery was brought up to a strength of six batteries, 
and one part of the fresh troops was sent to reinforce the 
left, and another towards the Bed Hill. Shortly afterwards, 
Von Goeben had to relinquish the command to his senior, 
Von Zastrow, the commander of the 7th Corps ; but the 
chief business of the principal leaders consisted in pushing 
up reinforcements as they arrived ; the forward fighting 
being directed by the Generals and Colonels in actual con- 
tact with the enemy. 

Progress of the Action. 
For two hours, that is, between four and six o'clock, the 
front of battle swagged to and fro, for the French fought 
valiantly, and, by repeated forward rushes, compelled their 
pertinacious assailants to give, or repelled their energetic 
attempts to gain, ground. A German company would dash 
out from cover, and thrust the defenders to the rear ; then, 
smitten in front and flank, it would recede, followed by the 
French, who, taken in flank by the opportime advent of a 
hostile group, would retreat to the woods, or the friendly 
shelter of a depression in the soiL Nevertheless, in the 
centre, and on their own left, the Germans made some pro- 
gress. A battalion of the 5th Division mastered the 
defence in the Pfaffen Wald on the French right ; a group 
of companies crowned the highest point in the Giffert 
Wald ; and the new arrivals, drawn alike from the 8th 


and the 8rd Corps, pushed up the ravine on the east, and 
the slopes on the west of the Bed Hill, until their com- 
bined fire and frequent rushes forced the French out of 
their second line of intrenchments on the neck of high 
land which connected the Bed Hill with the heights of 
Spicheren. The French strove fiercely, again and again, to 
recover the vantage ground, yet could not prevail; but 
their comrades below, in the south-west comer of the 
Giffert Wald, stoutly held on, so that the fight in this 
quarter became stationary, as neither side could make any 

On the German r^ht, during the same interval of time, 
there had been sharper alternations of fortuna Here the 
French held strong positions, not only in the village of 
Stiring-Wendel, but on the hillsides above it, and especially 
on the tongue of upland called the Forbacher Berg. The 
assailant had succeeded in taking and keeping the farm- 
steads on the railway, the " Breme d'or " and the " Baraque 
Mouton ;" but the efforts of General von Woyna to operate 
on the French left had been so roughly encountered that he 
drew back his troops to a point far down the valley. In fact, 
General Frossard had strengthened Yerg^, who held fast to 
Stiring, by Yalaz^'s brigade, and General Bataille had also 
sent half his division to support his comrade. The conse* 
quence was that the German projects were frustrated; 
while, on the other hand, their heavy batteries on the 
Folster Hohe had such an ascendancy that the French 
could not secure any advantage by moving down the vale.. 

Yet they were not, as yet, worsted in the combat at any 
point, save on the salient of the Bed Hill. Upon that 
eminence the German commanders now determined to send 
both cavalry and guns. The horsemen, however, could gain 
no footing, either by riding up the hillsides, or following 
the zigzags of the Spicheren road, which ascends the eastern 


face of the promontory. The artillery had better fortune. 
First one gun, and then another, was welcomed by the shouts 
of the much- tried and steadfast defenders ; eight pieces first 
succeeded in overcoming all obstacles; finally, four other 
guns, completing the two batteries, came into action, and 
their fire was efficacious in restraining the ardour of the 
French, and rendering the position absolutely secure from 
assault. But they suffered great losses, which were in- 
flicted not only by the powerful batteries on the opposite 
height, but by the Chassepot fire from the front and the 
Giffert Wald. The Q-erman commanders had discovered 
by a harsh experience that the battle could not be won 
either by an offensive movement from the centre, or flanking 
operations on the left, because the neck of highland south 
of the Eed Hill was too strongly held, while the deep valley 
interposed between the forests and the Spicheren Downs 
brought the flanking battalions to a halt, under cover. It 
was then determined to employ the latest arrivals, the 
troops of the 6th Division, in an effort to storm the For- 
bacher Berg from the Metz road valley, and at the same 
time to renew a front and flank attack upon Stiring- 

Here we may note two facts which are apt illustrations 
of that efficiency, the fruit of wise forethought, which pre- 
vailed in the German host. One is that a battery, attached 
to the 1st Corps, arrived on the Saar, by railway, direct 
from Konigsberg, on the confines of East Prussia, and, 
driving up, actually went into position, and opened fire 
from the Folster Hohe. It was the first light battery 
commanded by Captain Schmidt, whose exploit was, then, 
at least, without parallel. The other is that the 2nd 
battalion of the 53rd Eegiment, starting at six in the 
morning from Wadem, actually marched, part of the time 
as artillery escort, nearly twenty-eight miles in thirteen 


hours, and, towards sunset, stood in array on the field of 
battle. The like goodwill and energy were displayed by all 
the troops ; but this example of zeal and endurance deserves 
special record. 

Frossard Betires, 
The final and decisive encounters on this sanguinary 
field were delivered on the western fronts. Four battalions 
were directed along or near the Metz road upon the heights 
above Stiring, while the troops on the extreme Glerman 
right, which, it will be remembered, had suffered a reverse, 
resumed their march upon the village. These simultaneous 
onsets were all the more effective, because the French 
commander was alarmed by the advance guard of the 13th 
Division, which, having moved up from Bosseln, was now 
near to Forbach itself. He had become apprehensive of 
being turned on both flanks, for Laveaucoupet was, at that 
moment, engaged in a desperate, although a partially suc- 
cessful strife against the Germans in the Giffert Wald. 
The flank attack on the Forbacher Berg, skilfully con- 
ducted, drove back the adversary, yet could not be caiTied 
far, because he was still strong and it was growing dusk. 
In like manner, Stiring itself was only captured in part. 
On the other hand, so vehement a rush was made upon the 
Giffert Wald that the French once more penetrated its 
coverts. Practically, however, the battle had been decided. 
General Frossard, receiving no support from Bazaine's 
divisions, greatly disturbed by the news that the head of a 
hostile column was close to Forbach, imable to oust the 
Germans from the Red Hill or effectively repel their onsets 
on the Metz road had, half an hour before a footing on the 
Forbacher Berg was won, given orders for a retreat upon 
Sarreguemines, so that the furious outburst of French 



valour in the Giffert Wald was only the expiring flash of 
a finely-sustained engagement, and the forerunner of a 
retrograde night march. 

Indeed, General Frossard is entitled to any credit which 
may accrue from the stoutness with which he held his main 
position until nightfall. He himself assigns the march of 
Yon Golz from Eosseln upon Forbach as the reason for his 
retreat. Having been obliged to leave the heights north- 
west of Forbach practically undefended, in order to support 
Verg^ in Stiring-Wendel, he lost, or thought he had lost, 
control over the high road and railway to Metz, and felt 
bound to retire eccentrically upon Sarreguemines, a move- 
ment which it is not easy to comprehend. It is true that 
the guns of Von Golz, firing from the hills above Forbach, 
drove back a train bringing reinforcements from St. Avoid, 
but a couple of miles to the r^ar was Metman's entire 
division ; and it was from and not towards this succour that 
the main body of the French took their way. The most 
astonishing fact connected with this battle is that during 
the whole day three of Bazaine's divisions were each within 
about nine miles of the battlefield. It was not the Marshal's 
fault that not one assisted the commander of the 2nd Corps. 
Each had been directed to do so, but none succeeded. 
General Montaudon did, indeed, move out from Sarregue- 
mines, but halted after covering a few miles. General de 
Oastagny , as soon as he heard the guns, and without wait- 
ing for orders, marched his division from Puttelange ; but, 
unluckily for him, the sound led him into the hills, where 
the dense woods and vales obstructed the passage of the 
sound. Hearing nothing he returned to Puttelange, but no 
sooner had he got there than the roar of artillery, more in- 
tense than ever, smote his ear. The ready veteran at 
once set out afresh, this time following the route which 
would have brought him into the heart of the Spichereu 


position. He was too late; nigbt came on apace, the 
distant tumult died down, be endeavoured to communicate 
with Frossard, but his messenger only found Metman, who, 
coming on from Marienthal, had halted at Bening, and 
did not move upon Forbach until nearly dark. Thus 
were three strong divisions wasted, and a force which would 
have given the French victory, spent the day in wandering 
to and fro or in weak hesitation. General de Castagny was 
the only officer who really did bis utmost to support the 
2nd Corps ; for Metman awaited orders, and they came too 
late. During the nigbt, or early in the morning, they all, 
except De Castagny, who was called up to St. Avoid, 
assembled near Puttelange, wearied and disgusted with 
their fruitless exertions ; and there they were joined by the 
2nd Corps. 

The G-ermans bivouacked on the field. They had had in 
action twenty-seven battalions and ten batteries, and the 
day's irregular and confused fighting had cost them in 
killed and wounded a loss of no fewer than 223 officers and 
4,648 men ; while the French lost 249 officers and 3,829 
men, including more than two thousand prisoners. The 
great disproportion is due to the fact that the Germans 
were the assailants and that throughout the day and 
on all points they fought the battle with relatively small 
groups, parts of the 7th, 8th, and 3rd Corps, which 
arrived in succession on the scene. That the victory was 
not more complete must be ascribed to the improvised 
character of the conflict. Both Woerth and Spicheren were 
accidental combats due to the initiative of subordinate 
officers, a practice which has its dangers ; but the success 
attained in each case is a striking proof that the discipline 
and training of all ranks in the German Army had created 
a living organism which could be trusted to work by 



TWO sucli staggering and unexpected blows filled the 
civil population with terror, the aspiring soldiers at 
head-quarters with anger, and the Imperial Commander- 
in-Chief with dismay. Disorder, consternation, and 
amazement reigned in Metz. And no wonder. From 
Alsace came the appalling news that the 1st Corps had 
been hopelessly shattered and that the Marshal was already 
fleeing for safety, by day and night, through the passes of 
the Yosges. Strasburg reported the arrival of fugitives 
and the absence of a garrison. " We have scarcely any 
troops," wrote the Prefect ; " at most from fifteen hundred 
to two thousand men." The chief official at Epinal asked 
for power to organize the defence of the Yosges at the 
moment when the passes were thronged with MacMahon's 
hurrying troops. It was known that General Frossard 
had been defeated and that he was in full retreat, but 
during twenty-four hours no direct intelligence came to 
hand from him. That Be Failly, left unsupported at 
Bitsche, would retire at once was assumed, but the orders 
directing his movements did not reach him until, after a 
severe night march, he had halted a moment at Lutzelstein, 
or, as the French call the fort, La Petite Pierre. From 
Yerdun and Thionville arrived vehement demands for 


arms and proyisions; and from the front towards the 
Saar no report that was not alarming. Taming to the 
south-east, the Imperial head-quarters did not know 
exactly where Douay's 7th Corps was ; and in an agony of 
apprehension ordered the General, if he could, to throw a 
division into Strasburg, and " with the two others '* cover 
Belfort. When the telegram was sent one of these had 
been heavily engaged at Woerth, and the other was at 
Lyons not yet formed I The anxiety of the Emperor and 
his assistants was embittered by the knowledge that not 
one strong place on the Rhine had a sufficient garrison ; 
and that the rout of MacMahon had not only flung wide 
open the portals of Lorraine, but had made the reduction 
of ill-provided Strasburg a question of weeks or days. So 
heedlessly had the Ollivier Ministry, the Emperor and 
Empress rushed into war, at a time when even the 
fortifications of Metz were glaringly incomplete, when the 
storehouses of the frontier fortresses were ill-supplied, 
when arms and uniforms were not or could not be furnished 
to the Mobiles; when, in short, nothing could be put 
between the Germans and Paris except the troops hastily 
collected in Alsace and Lorraine — ^now a host in part 
sh ittered, in part disordered, and the whole without resolute 
and clear-sighted direction. 

Prince Louis Napoleon, sitting passively on his horse in 
the barrack-yard of Strasburg, in 1836, was defined by a 
caustic historian as a "literary man " whose characteristic 
was a "faltering boldness." . The phrases apply to the 
Emperor in Metz. It may be said that he could use the 
langua^ employed by soldiers, that he had some military 
judgment, but that, when called on, he could not deal at all 
with the things which are the essence of the profession he 
loved to adopt. After a lapse of more than thirty years, he 
found himself, not alone in a barrack-yard facing an 


"indignant Colonel/' but at the head of a great, yet 
scattered and roughly handled Army, with formidable 
enemies pressing upon his front, and equally formidable 
enemies pouring through the rugged hill paths upon his 
vulneirable flank, and threatening the sole railway which 
led direct through Chalons to Paris. He was now a man, 
old for his years, and a painful disease made a seat on 
horseback almost intolerable. He could not, like his uncle 
in his prime, ride sixty miles a day, sleep an hour or two, 
and mount again if needful. He was an invalid and a 
dreamer, who had, against his fluctuating will, undertaken 
a task much too vast for his powers. The Contemptuous 
words applied to him by Mr. Kinglake seem harsh, still, in 
very truth, they exactly describe Louis Napoleon as he was 
at Strasburg in 1836, and as he sat meditatively at Metz in 
1870. Yet, be it understood, he never at any period of his 
career was wanting in coolness and physical couragei 
though what Napier has finely called " spi'inging valour " 
had no place in his temperament. He was scared by the 
suddenness of the shock and the rapidity of events, and he 
wa« bewildered because he was incapable of grasping, co- 
ordinating, or understanding the thick-coming realities 
presented by war on a grand scale; and stood always too 
much' in awe of the unknown. He could not ** make up his 
mind," and in the higher ranks of the French Army there 
was not one man who could force him to make it up and 
stand fast by his resolution. But, inferior as they were 
when measured by a high standard, it is probable that any 
one of the Corps Commanders, clothed with Imperial 
power, would have conducted the campaign far better than 
the Emperor. Another disadvantage which beset him was 
a moral consequence inseparable from his adventurous 
career. He could not add a cubit to his military stature ; 
but he need not have " waded through slaughter to a 


throne/* In Paris before he started for the frontier, in 
Mets on the morning of Angast 7th, he must have felt, as 
the Empress also felt, that his was a dynastj which could 
not stand before the shock of defeat in battle. He had, 
therefore, to consider every hour, not so much what was 
the best course of action from the soldier's standpoint, as 
how anv course, advance, retreat or inaction, would affect 
the political situation in Paris. Count von Bismarck's 
haughty messf^ through M. Benedetti in 1866, if 
Benedetti faithfully delivered it, must have come back 
to the Emperor's memory in 1870. Bemind the Emperor, 
said Bismarck, that a war might bring on a revolutionary 
crisis ; and add, that '* in such a case, the German 
dynasties are likely to prove more solid than that of the 
Emperor Napoleon." It was a consciousness of the weak 
foundations of his power, breeding an ever-present dread 
alike in the capital and the camp, which, making him 
ponder when he should act, falter when he should be 
bold, imparted to his resolutions the instability of the 

It is on record that the first impulse of the Emperor and 
his intimate advisers was to retreat forthwith over the 
Moselle and the Meuse. General de Ladmirault was 
ordered to fall back on Metz ; the Guard had to take the 
same direction; Bazaine, who had responsibility without 
power, was requested to protect the retirement of Frossard, 
who, driven off the direct, was marching along the more 
easterly road to Metz, through Gros Tenquin and Faulque- 
mont, which the Germans call Falcouberg ; De FaiUy was 
required, if he could, to move on Nancy. MacMahon, it 
was hoped, would gather up bis fragments, and transport 
them to Chalons, where Canrobert was to stand fast, and 
draw back to that place one of his divisions which had 
reached Nancy. Paris was placarded with the Emperor's 


famous despatch ; and the Parisians read aloud the ominous 
sentences which heralded the fall of an Empire. ''Marshal 
MacMahon/' said the Emperor, ** has lost a battle on the 
Sauer. General Frossard has been obliged to retire. The 
retreat is conducted in good order.*' And then followed 
the tell-tale phrase, used by Napoleon I. himself on a 
similar occasion — " ToTit pent $e retablir,** aU, perhaps, may 
come right again. But so inconstant was the Imperial 
will, that the hasty resolve to fly into Champagne faded 
out almost as soon as it was formed ; for the next day the 
dominant opinion was that it would be better to remain on 
the right bank of the Mosella MacMahon and De Failly 
accordingly got counter orders, indicating Nancy as a point 
of concentration, and based on a feeble notion that they 
could both be drawn to Metz ; while once again Canrobert 
was told to bring the infantry of the 6th Corps up to the 
same place by rail. Orders and counter orders then 
showered down on De Failly — thus, he was and he was not 
to move on Toul — ^but the enemy's movements dictated the 
future course of a General rendered as powerless as his 
superiors were vacillating ; and finally both the Marshal 
and his luckless subordinate, as well as Douay's 7th Corps, 
made their way deviously to the camp of Chalons. 

The Emperor resigns his command. 
When the Emperor suddenly revoked the order to retire 
upon Chalons, he was influenced partly by military, but 
cbiefly by political considerations. Bemonstrances were 
heard in the camps, remonstrances arrived from Paris, and 
the combined effect of these open manifestations produced 
an order to establish the Army in position behind the 
French Nied, a stream which, rising to the southward, 
flows parallel to the Moselle, and, after receiving the 


German Nied, runs into the Saar below Saarlouis. The 
weather had been wet and tempestuous; the retiring 
troops, exhausted by night marches and want of food, 
struggled onward, yet showed signs of " demoralization ; '* 
in other words, were out of heart, and insubordinate. 
Frossard's men, who had passed the prescribed line before 
receiving the new instructions, had to retrace their steps ; 
and Decaen, now in command of the 3rd Corps, begged for 
rest on behalf of his divisions. Yet the three Corps and 
the Q-uard occupied, on the 10th, the new position which, 
selected by Marshal Leboeuf , extended from Pange to Les 
Etangs. It was intended to fight a battle on that ground, 
and the men were set to work on intrenchments, some of 
which were completed before another change occurred in 
the directing mind. The position was found to be defective ; 
and, on the 11th, the entire Army, abandoning its wasted 
labours, moved back upon the outworks of Metz itseK, 
almost within range of its guns. Thus had three precious 
days been spent in wandering to and fro at a time when the 
military situation required that the Army should be trans- 
ferred to the left bank of the Moselle, and placed in full 
command of the route to Chalons, even if it were not com- 
pelled to fall back further than the left bank of the Meuse. 
One explanation, drawn by the official writers of the 
German Staff history, from French admissions, is that, 
instead of Metz protecting the Army, the Army was 
required to protect Metz, seeing that the forts were not in 
a state to hold out against a siege of fifteen days ! The 
Imperial Commander had not even yet quite made up hitf 
mind ; but, late on the 12th, finding the burden too severe, 
and the clamour of public opinion too great, he appointed 
Marshal Bazaine Commander-in-Chief of *' the Army of the 
Rhine." It was a damnosa kcereditas; for the campaign 
was virtually lost during ten days of weakness and vadUa- 


tiOB, and especiallj by the want of a prompt decision 
between the 7th and the 10th of August, while there was 
yet time. 

As we have said, the main reason was political. The 
eager aspirants for power, and the friends of the Empress 
in Paris, ousted the Ollivier Ministry on the 9th, and the 
new combination, with the Comte de Palikao at its head^ 
felt that they could not retain office, that the " dynasty " 
even could not survive unless the Emperor and the Army 
fought and won. Everything must be risked to give the 
dynasty a chance. The Eegency and the Camp fell under 
the influence of hostile public opinion, which had already 
begun to associate the name of Napoleon, not only with 
the reverses endured, but the utter want of preparation 
for war, now painfully evident to the multitude as well as 
to the initiated. Yet so menacing and terrible did thd 
actual facts become that even the Emperor could not resist 
them, and, in handing over the command to Bazaine on the 
18th, he ordered that unfortunate, if ambitious, officer to 
transfer the Army with the utmost speed to the left ban^ 
of the Moselle, place Laveaucoupet's Division in Metz, and 
gain Verdun as quickly as possible. It was too late, as we 
shall see; for the Prussians were ready to grasp at the 
skirts of a retreating Army, and once more thwart the 
plans of its leaders. In order to track the course of events 
to this point, the narrative must revert to the morrow of 

The German Advance. 

On the morning of the 7th of August, some French 

troops were still in Forbach, and Montaudon's Division 

had not departed from Sarreguemines. The fronts of the 

two invading armies were hardly over the frontier, and the 



chiefs had not jet learned the full extent of the double 
shock inflicted on the adversarj. A thick fog enveloped 
the Spicheren battlefield, and clung to the adjacent hills 
and woods, and through the mist the patrols had to feel 
their way. No serious resistance could be offered bj the 
FroDch detachments at any point ; Forbach, together with 
its immense stores, was occupied at an early hour ; while, 
so soon as the vigilant cavalry saw the rear-guard of Mont- 
audon quit the place, they rode into Sarreguemines. 
Patrols were pushed out along the roads towards Metz, but 
no advance was made, partly because the respective Corps 
composing both the German Annies were still on the 
march, and partly because the Staff, mistaken respecting 
the route followed by MacMahon, had ordered several 
movements with the object of intercepting and destroying 
his broken divisions. The consequence was that the leading 
columns stood fast while the Corps to the rear and left 
were brought up to and beyond the Saar. MacMahon and 
De Failly, as we have seen, were hurrying southward, and 
thus Yon Moltke's precautions proved* needless. Ihiring 
the 8th, the cavalry, despatched far and wide, between St. 
Avoid and the Upper Saar, found foes near the former, who 
at once retired, but none on the course of the river. The 
next day, the horsemen, still more active, sent in reports 
which satisfied the cautious Chief of the Staff that the 
French had really fallen back on Metz, yet inspired him 
with some doubts respecting their intentions. He thought 
it possible that they might assume the offensive in the hope 
of surprising and routing part of the German Armies — a 
project actually discussed by the Emperor and Bazaine, 
but soon thrown aside. Von Moltke, however, determined 
to guard against that design, kept his several Corps within 
supporting distance; and, on the 10th, began a great 
movement forward. The First Army» in the post of 


danger, was to serve as a pivot upon whicli the Second, 
effecting a wheel to the right, swung inwards towards the 
Moselle above Metz. Yon Steinmetz, much to his disgust, 
had to halt about Carling, with his supports towards Teter- 
chen and Boulaj, and the 9th Corps in support at For- 
bach. On his left, the Second Army was advancing in 
echelon on roads between Harskirchen, near Saar Union, 
where the 4th Corps touched the outposts of the Crown 
Prince's Army, and Faulquemont, where the 3rd Corps 
stood on the railway, having on its left the 10th about 
Hellimer, and the Ghuard at Gueblange. The 12th was 
still on the Saar, and the 2nd, awaiting its last bat- 
talions, in Bhenish Prussia. Thus the two Armies stood 
on the 11th, covered by brigades of cavalry, whose opera- 
tions, better than anything else, illustrate the audacious, 
yet elastic and painstaking, methods employed by the Ger- 
mans in war. 

The German Cavalry aJt Work. 
Never before had the principle that cavalry are the eyes 
and ears of an army been more extensively applied. We 
have already seen these well-trained horsemen watching the 
line of the Saar, and even looking into the rear of the 
French camps ; we shall now see them literally infesting 
the country between the Saar and the Moselle without let 
or hindrance from the French cavaliers. After Spicheren, 
the German cavalry divisions were distributed along the 
front of the Corps in motion ; and the hardy reiters were 
soon many miles ahead of the infantry, some penetrating 
up the easy western slopes of the Vosges, where they f oimd 
no enemies, others riding towards Nancy and the points 
of passage over the river below that town ; and others 
again hovering pertinaciously on the rear of the backward 


moying French Corps, picking up stragglers, capturing 
prisoners, interrogating o£Scials, and inspecting, from 
coigns of vantage, the camps and positions of the enemy. 
In this way they learned that the Emperor had visited 
Bazaine at Faulquemont; that the greater part of the 
French were Metzward, and that on the left towards the 
hills there were none to be seen. The cavalry divisions 
rode out long distances, detaching flanking parties and 
pushing patrols to the front, so that the whole range of 
country between the right and left of the Infantry Corps 
was thoroughly searched by these indefatigable and 
daring explorers. Thus, a troop of Uhlans, starting from 
Faulquemont, rode as far as the woods near Berlize, and 
keeping well under cover, yet quite close to the enemy, 
took note of his positions at and beyond Pange, .saw large 
bodies moving from Metz to take ground behind the Nied, 
and learned that reinforcements, the leading brigades of 
the Canrobert's Corps, in fact, had arrived at Metz. 
Another patrol of lancers, moving on the St. Avoid road, 
confirmed the report that the French had occupied the 
Nied line ; while, on the opposite flank, a Hussar patarol 
found no enemy about Chateau Salins, but laid hands on 
the bearer of important despatches. On the 11th, the 
screen of inquisitive norsemen became thicker and more 
venturesome, trotting up to the river SeiUe itself at 
Nom^ny, on the road to Pont a Mousson. The mounted 
men of the First Army had hitherto been held back, but 
now che two divisions, passing forth on the flanks, ap^ 
preached and examined the left of the French line. One 
troop arrived near Les Etangs just in time to see De Lad- 
mirault's Corps folding up their tents, and soon beheld the 
French march off towards Metz ; indeed the deep columns 
were moving in that direction from the left bank of the 
Nied. The Uhlans followed De Ladmirault through Les 


Etangs until they saw him go into position at Bellecroix 
close to the. place. In like manner, other Uhlans, operating 
farther up the stream, found the camps and intrenchments 
abandoned, so that it became certain, on the evening of the 
1 1th, that the French Army had been drawn back under 
the gims of Metz. The next day the activity of the 
•navaliers increased, and they pressed forward until they 
-were in contact with the French outposts, and were able to 
x)bserve the whole new position between Queleu and Belle- 
-croix, working up on the left to a point within three miles 
x>f Metz, and proving that as far as the right bank above 
the town, the country was unoccupied. On the 12th, 
Uhlans had ridden into Nancy, on one side, and, on the 
other, a body of Cuirassiers actually found the gates of 
Thionville open, captured a garde mobile belonging to the 
garrison, and brought off a Prussian reserve man who had 
been detained in the town. At Dieulouard a patrol crossed 
the Moselle on a bridge just constructed by the French, 
and were only driven from the railway, which they had 
.begun to destroy, by infantry — the last detachments of 
Canrobert's Corps allowed to get through by train from 
Chalons. A daring attempt was made upon Pout h. 
Mousson by some Hussars ; but here General Margueritte, 
sent with his Chasseurs d'Af rique from Metz, drove back 
the invaders, killing a great number. These examples will 
suffice to give some idea of the admirable use which the 
Germans made of their cavalry, to conceal their movements, 
harass the enemy, and, above all, gain priceless information, 
while the adversary, whose horse were idle, could obtain 
none. The dash made by Margueritte to relieve Pont h. 
Mousson is the one solitary instance of alertness shown by 
the French, and even he and his troopers were withdrawn, 
leaving the river line above Metz wholly unprotected, and 
the bridges unbroken ! 

142 [the campaign of sedan. [chap. ti. 

The Oermans March on the Moselle. 

From these wide-ranging enterprises, conducted by Veen 
and resolute soldiers, the Great Staff obtained nearly as 
minute a knowledge of the French proceedings as thej 
possessed themselves, and were enabled to direct the inarch 
of the (German Armies with firmness and precision. Their 
great object was to secure the unguarded line of the 
Moselle by seizing, as rapidly as possible, all the points of 
passage above Metz, and the only doubt entertained at 
head-quarters was suggested by the apprehension that the 
energy displayed by the cavalry might attract attention to 
these undefended spots. Accordingly, while the First 
Army, again, was ordered to protect the right of the Second, 
by advancing on the Nied, taking up groimd between 
Pange and Les Etangs, the Second was to move upon the 
SeUle, and endeavour to secure the bridges at Pont k 
Mousson, Dieulouard and other places, sending the cavalry 
once more in force over the stream. Yon Moltke's calcu- 
lation was that if the French attacked Yon Steinmetz, 
Prince Charles could form up and threaten their flank ; if 
they tried to operate against the Second Army by ascending 
the Moselle, Yon Steinmetz could then assail them in line 
of march, as they must cross his front ; while if passing 
through Metz they moved up the left bank, Prince Charles 
could effect a junction with the Crown Prince, and Yon 
Steinmetz could cross the MoseUe and attack the French 
rear. The combination was strong, but the Emperor, as 
we have stated, had then no idea of assuming the offensive 
in any direction, his only anxiety being to seek a temporary 
shelter behind the Meuse. 

Throughout the 13th, the German Corps, horse and foot, 
sprang forward, displaying that alacrity and hardihood 
which had marked their conduct from the outset of the 


war. The Dragoon brigade of the Guard swooped down 
upon Dieulouard, and finaUj sundered the direct railway 
communication between Chalons and Metz. Two other 
cavahy brigades, forming the 5th Division, entered Pont 
k Mousson early in the morning, and were followed by half 
the 10th Corps from Delme. In order to hide, as &r as 
possible, the movements of the Second Army, an entire 
division of cavalry, the 6th, was employed ; one brigade 
extending from Courcelles sur Nied, to Bomy on the 
Moselle, and the other posted at Yemy supporting the 
front line, and linked itself by patrols to the 5th at Pont 
i Mousson. The 1st Division of Cavalry, during the fore* 
noon, crossed the Nied at Pange, and occupied the villages 
to the right and left, so that a continuous line of mounted 
men stretched from the Nied to the Moselle. Behind this 
barrier, the several Corps toiled forward in full security. 
At the dose of the day, however, only one-half the 10th 
Corps was over the Moselle, the other moiety being one 
inarch to the rear ; the head of the 3rd Corps stood at 
Buchy ; the 9th at Hemy ; the 12th at Chemery ; the 
2nd, now complete, at St. Avoid ; the Guard at Ldmon* 
court, and the 4th at Chateau Salins. 

By this time, the Third Army, except the 6th Corps, 
and the Baden Division which had been directed upon 
Strasburg, had made its way through the defiles of the 
Vosges, had emerged into the valley of the Upper Saar, 
and was, therefore, in direct communication with the 
Second Army ; so that the German host occupied a wide 
region extending from Sarrebourg to villages in front of 
Metz ; yet at the vital points the Corps stood near enough 
to support each other should it be necessary to assemble 
on a field of battle. The passage of the Yosges had been 
obstructed only by nature and the forts of Bitsche and 
Phalsbourg. These were turned, and the hardships of 


cross roads and restricted supplies had been overcome. 
The divisions trickled through the vallejs on a broad front, 
gathering up as thej touched the Saar and the country of 
lakes about Fenestrange. As Phalsbourg did not command 
the railway, that important highway fell into the hands of 
the Overmans. The tunnels in the Zom valley west of 
Saveme had not been destroyed, and the whole line was 
complete, yet it could not be used for the transport of 
troops and stores until a later period. On the 13th, when 
the First Army was closing in on the French outside Metz, 
and the Second heading for the Moselle, the Third quitted 
the Upper Saar, and, once more expanding, approached on 
a broad front the valley of the Meurthe. During the 
next day, when their comrades were hotly engaged with 
the enemy, they reached the banks of that stream, and 
their forward cavalry rode into the streets of Lun^ville and 
Nancy, the old capital of Lorraine. At this critical 
moment. Marshal MacMahon was hastening to Chalons ; 
De Failly, after having been ordered hither and thither 
from hour to 'hour, had received final orders — ^he was to 
join the Marshal; but Douay's 7th Corps, although 
Dumont's Division had arrived, increasing the total to 
about 20,000 men and 90 guns, had not yet been, and was 
not for three days, directed from Belfort upon the great 
camp in the plans of Champagne. 



WEABT of his task, weakened in body hj a painful 
malady, depressed in mind by a series of disasters, 
and worried by advice from Paris, the Emperor Napoleon, 
on the evening of the 12th of August, transferred to 
Marshal Bazaine the burden which he could no longer 
bean Whatever may have been his other aptitudes, he 
was not born to command Armies in the field nor had 
he that power of selection which may enable an inferior to 
choose and clothe with his authority a superior man. Had 
a Badetzky, instead of an Emperor, commanded the 
Austrian Army in 1859 it is probable that the stability of 
the ^* dynasty *' would have been tried by defeat and the 
unity of Italy deferred until a later day. Whether the 
!gmperor Napoleon recognized his incompetence, or whether, 
as he often did, he yielded to pressure, matters little except 
to the students of character. He nofliinally gave up the 
command, yet retained a certain indefinite control, and he 
placed at the head of his Army a Marshal who, although 
the senior in rank . to the recently promoted Marshal 
Leboeuf, the late Chief of the Staff, was still the junior of 
Marshal Canrobert ; both, fortunately, were loyal men, and 
the latter ready to serve under his junior. Yet it is doubt- 
ful whether Bazaine ever exercised that moral ascendency 


which is essential at all times, and never more so than at a 
crisis when the fate of Armies depends not only on wise 
direction, but prompt and willing obedience. The Marshal, 
appointed on the 12th, did not take up his command until 
the next day, and then he was required to remedy in less 
than twenty-four hours the deep-seated mischief produced 
by a fortnight of terrible blundering. His special task 
was to transport the Army over the Moselle. Pour days 
earlier that might have been done without a shot being 
fired, because even if the German horse had come up to 
look on they must have been idle spectators as their in- 
fantry comrades were far in the rear. The fatal error was 
committed when the Emperor did not overrule all opposi- 
tion, and, adhering with unswerving firmness to his first 
thought, neither halt, ponder, nor rest until the Moselle 
flowed between him and his foes. The military position 
on the morning of the 7th dictated that step ; his adver- 
saries believed or surmised that he would take it, because it 
was the right step to take. Nor can we doubt that,*as 
Commander-in-Chief, Louis Napoleon, who had a little of 
" le flair militaire," saw at once the proper course, but that, 
as Emperor, he dared not, on reflection, run the risk. It 
was a false calculation, even from a political standpoint, be- 
cause, so long as he was in the field with, or at the head of 
an Army, his republican and monarchical enemies would 
not have moved, and time would have been gained. By 
retiring promptly over the Moselle, and leaving Metz to 
defend itself, he might have been defeated in battle or 
manoeuvred back upon Paris ; but there would have been 
no Sedan and no Metz, and even the Parisians would have 
hesitated to plunge headlong into civil war when a French 
Army was still afoot, and a formidable host of invaders, 
pressing on its weaker array, was "trampling the sacred 
soil.*' The fate of the campaign about Metz was, then, 


really decided wlien the Emperor did not avail himself of 
the days of grace, beat down all opposition, and compel 
his Marshals and Generals to march their troops over the 
Moselle. Neither Bazaine nor any one officer present 
with the Army is entitled to be called a great captain ; 
but whatever he was, the blame of failure does not rest on 
him alone ; it must be shared, in a far greater degree, by 
those who preceded him in command. It is necessary to 
insist on this fact, because one of the most valuable 
lessons taught by the campaign would be lost were the 
capital error committed by the Imperial Staff, when the 
order for retreat was countermanded and five days were 
wasted in abortive operations, not described with the 
emphasis it deserves. Campaigns have been lost as much 
by postponed retreats as by rash advances ; and it was the 
ill-fortune of the French Generals in August, 1870, to 
present egregious examples of both forms of fatal error. 

The French Propose to Move, 
When Marshal Bazaine took over the command, on the 
morning of the 18th, he was required to do in haste what 
his superiors might have done at leisure. The prolonged 
indecision of the Imperial mind, held in suspense down to 
the last moment and against its better judgment, between 
the alternative of attack or retreat, was disastrous ; no 
margin was allowed for error of design, error in execution, 
and — ^the unforeseen. The Emperor had ordered Coffin- 
ieres, the Governor of Metz, to build as many bridges as 
he could above and below the place, and the General 
declares, what no one disputes, that he did construct from 
twelve to fifteen bridges, which provided seven lines of 
march over the stream. He also mined the permanent 
bridges above the fortress, so that on the 12th facilities 


for crosfidi!^ abounded, and the means of destruetion were 
prepared. Then came in the unforeseen. Bain had fallen 
heavily, and consequentlj the Moselle rose, flowed over 
the trestle bridges, damaged the rafts, disconnected the 
pontoons with the banks, and spread far and wide over the 
approaches^ In short, the increase in the volume of water 
was so great and unusual, if not imparalleled, that the 
calamity was attributed to the Germans — ^they must, it 
was said, have destroyed the sluices near Marsal and have 
allowed the lake water of that region* free access to the 
Moselle — as if they did not wish to cross the river them- 
selves! Be the cause what it might, there was the 
obstruction ; so that the first information received by the 
Marshal was that the retreat, which he had been ordered 
to execute, could not begin until the next day, except by 
Canrobert's 6th Corps, which was near permanent bridges. 
Consequently, the Army remained another day on the 
right bank. The Corps were in position between forts 
Queleu and St. Julien, Frossard on the right, Decaen in 
the centre, and De Ladmirault on the left, the Guard being 
in rear of the centre behind Borny, where Marshal 
Bazaine had set up his head-quarters. Practically the 
line was a curve extending from the Seille to the banks of 
Moselle below Metz; and the defensive obstacles were a 
watercourse with steep banks, patches of dense woods, two 
ch^teaus, or country houses, which were readily made de- 
fensible, and of course the villages and farms scattered 
over the pleasant fields. The main body of the Army was 
covered throughout its front by outposts thrown forward 
towards the Metz-Saarbriick railway on the right, beyond 
the brook in the centre, and about Yremy, Nouilly, and 
Servigny on the left. So they stood all day, some of them 
aware that the Germans were dangerously near ; more who. 
were anxious to get over the river; and yet others who 


would have staked everything upon the risk of a battle, so 
intolerable is suspense to men of ardent and excitable 
temperaments. The night passed over quickly, and on 
the 14th, yet not until a late hour in the forenoon, the 
Corps began to file off to the rear. Canrobert was already 
across; Frossard sent his guns and horsemen over the 
town bridges, while his infantry splashed through the 
meadows and over the partially submerged temporary con- 
structions; and leaving Grenier's division to cover his 
retreat, De Ladmirault set out for the left bank over the 
Isle Chambiere. The Marshal at Bomy, with his old 
Corps, now under Decaen, and having the Guard in sup- 
port, remained to protect the extensive and perilous move- 
ment to the rear in the face of a watehful and intrepid 

Beleased on the evening of the 12th from the impera- 
tive orders which held him fast, and directed to move for- 
ward upon the French Nied, General von Steinmetz 
advanced the next day with characteristic alacrity. Two 
Corps, the 7th and the 1st, were posted on a short line 
between Fange and Les Etangs, the 8th being held back 
at Varize on the German Nied, and the two cavalry divi- 
sions being thrown round the flanks. General von Golz, 
who commanded the twenty- sixth brigade, took the bold 
step of transferring it to the left, or French, bank of the 
stream, and he thus came into contact with the outposts of 
Decaen's 3rd Corps. Nevertheless, along the whole line, 
on the evening of the 13th and morning of the 14th, 
each side maintained a strictly observant attitude, and 
held aloof from hostile action; the French because they 
wished to glide oft unassailed, the Germans because their 
Commander-in-Chief desired to ecure a solid footing for 
the Second Army on the left bank of the Moselle before 
the French retired. Watched as these were by keen- 


sighted horsemen, they could not stir without being seen ; 
and so soon as the state of the Moselle permitted a move- 
ment to the rear, the fact was reported to the G-erman 
chiefs. A Hussar party notified, about eleven, that Fros- 
sard's outposts were falling back ; a little later that the 
tents were down ; and then that columns of all arms were 
retiring. So it was in the centre and on the left ; Decaen's 
Corps remained, but two divisions of De Ladmirault's 
Corps, it was noted, were no longer on the ground they 
had held in the morning. General von Manteuffel, infer- 
ring that De Ladmirault might have gone to join in an 
attack upon the 7th Corps, at once put two divisions under 
arms, a fortunate precaution, though suggested by an 
erroneous inference. In front of the 7th Corps, the facts 
admitted of no misinterpretation. The enemy was plainly 
in retreat, and General von Golz felt that it was his 
duty to interrupt the process. Therefore, about half- 
past three, notifying his intention to the Divisional Com- 
manders of his Corps, and requesting support from the 
1st, a request promptly granted, Von Golz sprang for- 
ward to attack the French, in full reliance upon the 
readiness and energy with which his superiors and com- 
rades would follow him into the fray. His bold resolve 
did stop the retreat, and his onset brought on, late in the 

The Battle of Colonibey-NouUly, 
The scene of this sharp but severe conflict was the gentle 
uplands immediately to the eastward of Metz, and a little 
more than cannon- shot beyond the forts which forbid access 
to that side of the place. The village of Bomy, indeed, is 
nearly on a line with the Fort des Bordes, and no point of 
the area within which the action raged is more than three 


miles from the fortifications. The ground slopes upward 

from the Moselle, rising into undulating hills, the summits 

of which are two or three hundred feet above the bed of the 

stream. Near to Metz these elevations are clothed with 

copses devoid of underwood, the great patches of verdure 

extending on a curve from Grimont close to the Moselle, as 

far as the right bank of the Seille. To the northward are 

more woods just outside the battlefield, the area of which 

was, from north to south, included between them and the 

railway to Saarbruck. A little to the north of this line, 

near Ars-Laquenexy, a village on the road from Sarregue- 

mines, were the sources of a rivulet which flowed northward 

along the whole front of the French position, receiving on 

its way brooks which trickle down the hollows in the hills 

to the eastward. The heights east of the stream were bare 

of wood, and the most prominent objects were the village 

and church tower of St. Barbe on the crown of a rounded 

hill to the north-east. From this elevated hamlet another 

brook rose, and found its way along the bed of a gully to 

Lauvalliers, where all the watercourses united, and, under 

the name of La Vallieres, ran thence to the Moselle. The 

French troops, four divisions of Decaen's Corps, were posted 

in the woods, and on the heights above the first- mentioned 

rivulet from the neighbourhood of Ars-Laquenexy to the 

point where all the streamlets joined. The outposts were 

in Mercy le Haut, sometimeS called Mercy les Metz, in the 

woods facing Ars-Laquenexy, in the Chateau D'Aubigny 

and Montoy, beyond the brook, in Colombey, a village on 

the south bank, and in Nouilly, a large village in the St. 

Barbe ravine. Beyond the confluence of the hill streams 

stood a division of De Ladmirault's Corps upon the high 

ground east of Mey, and it was this body which had its 

outguards in Nouilly. Although it was divided by the 

brook Valliferes on the left, the French position was strong. 


chiefly because the approaches were through defiles, over 
open ground, or up steep banks, but also because the woods 
afforded shelter to the infantry of the defenders. Three 
great roads intersected the field — one from Pange, through 
Colombey, to Bomy, a second from Saarbruck, which, after 
passing La Planchette, ran, at Bellecroix, into the third, 
which came from Saarlouis, and passed through Lau- 
valliers, entering Metz near the fort called Les Bordes. 
The Germans, early in the morning, were on the hiUs to 
the eastward, the 1st Corps being beyond St. Barbe, and 
the 7th near, and west of, Pange, with outposts well 
forward, and both cavalry and infantry in practical contact 
with the enemy, into whose position they looked from all 

Von Oolz Bashes In. 
It was the spectacle of a departing and decreasing host 
which made the eager Yon Golz, without awaiting per- 
mission, dash impetuously forward with his brigade. So 
energetic was the onset that the French were at once 
driven out of the Chateau d'Aubigny, Montoy, and La 
Planchette. The usual tactics were applied, the companies 
working together, turning a flank where the f rojit was too 
strong, and following up a success until the weight of fire 
brought them to a halt, or even thrust them back. The 
batteries attached to the brigade came at once into action 
and persisted, though they were hard hit by the French. 
But the advance of Yon G-olz was not to be arrested, and 
the impetus of his first movement forward carried part of 
the brigade over the ravine and watercourse, and into the 
village and inclosures of Colombey. That point, however, 
was the limit of his progress, for the French developed 
strong lines of skirmishers in the woods, and although 



thej were unable to expel the audacious intruders, these 
were obliged to expend all their energy upon holding what 
thej had won. On the right, that is to the north of 
Colombej, the assailants were brought to a stand on the 
eastern edge of the ravine, and at this early stage the farms, 
gardens and houses of Colombej formed a salient offensive 
angle exposed to the brunt of the French fire from the side 
of Bom J. 

At the first indication of a combat. General von 
Manteuffel, two of whose divisions were already under arms, 
sent their advance guards down the hills and through the 
hollow ways from St. Barbe ; joined his line of battle on to 
the right of Yon Golz and fell smartly on the outpost of 
Grenier's division which De Ladmirault had left about Mey 
to cover his retrograde march upon the MoseUe. The 
noise of combat, also, and the appeals sent in from the 
daring brigadier, put the rest of the 7th Corps in motion, 
so that the 14th as well as the 13th Division sprang to 
arms and approached the fight. General von Zastrow, 
however, did not quite approve of the temerity of his 
subordinate ; but seeing that the Corps was committed 
to an engagement, he permitted General von Glumer to use 
the twenty-sixth brigade on the right and General von 
Woyna to employ the twenty-eighth on the left while he 
held the twenty-seventh in reserve. In like manner, the 
French turned fiercely on their adversaries. Canrobert and 
Frossard were over the Moselle, but Decaen's four divisions 
were speedily arrayed ; the Guard behind them fell in and 
marched Brincourt's brigade towards the Seille to protect 
Montaudon's right ; and De Ladmirault instantly counter- 
marched his two divisions, moving De Lorencez towards the 
north-east, hoping to turn the right of Manteuffel, and 
ordering De Cissey, who had partially crossed the Moselle, 
to reinforce Grenier at Mey. About five o'clock, then, in 


consequence of the hardihood of a brigadier, a furious action 
raged along the whole French front, towards which com- 
rades were hurriedly retracing their steps, and upon which 
adversaries were hastening forward with equal ardour. 

The rapid development of an attack, which had in it some 
elements of a surprise, alike unwelcome and unexpected, 
and the tenacity with which a few battalions clung stead- 
fastly to the advantage gained, astonished but did not 
disconcert the French, who frankly answered the challenge 
of their foes. Nevertheless, the opening movements of the 
1st Corps were as successful as those of Von Golz. The 
artillery, always foremost in this campaign, going straight 
and swiftly to the front, soon had batteries in position, pro- 
tected by cavalry, while behind them on the roads from 
Saarlouis and Saarbruck the infantry were quickly moving 
up. The leading battalions of the Ist Division poured 
through and round Noisseville and NouiUy, pressing back 
the French skirmishers and, following them fast, actually 
stormed the barricaded village of Mey, directly under 
Grenier's main position in the wooded hill above. The 
2nd Division directed upon Montoy, Lauvalliers and the 
mills at the confluence of the streams, fell on with alacrity ; 
but the resistance was so keen that although they soon 
wrested the eastern, they suffered great loss and were once 
promptly repulsed by the defenders, when attempting to 
master the western bank. Yet, aided by the fire of batteries 
concentrated south of the St. Barbe ravine, these per- 
ristent troops ultimately crowned the ascent, and established 
the front of battle on the French side of the brook through- 
out its length. From one point, however, the French could 
not be dislodged. There was a cross road leading from 
Colombey to Bellecroix. It was a hollow way, bordered by 
trees two or three deep, and having in front, by way of 
salient, a little fir wood. This position effectually frustrated 


every effort of the Germans either to debouch from Colom- 
bey or push forward towards Bellecroix. Naturally strong 
and valiantly held, it was not carried until nearly seven 
o'clock, and then only by the repeated onsets of the twenty- 
fifth brigade which Yon Zastrow, about half -past five, had 
permitted to take a share in an engagement which he did 
not like, but which he was bound to sustain. Thus was 
Von €k)lz succoured and partially relieved from the heavy 
pressure put on him ; a pressure further mitigated by the 
advance of the twenty-eighth brigade, 7th Corps, on his 
left, and the capture of the wood of Bomy. Still further 
to the left the 18th Division of the 9th Corps, which had 
marched up from Buchy on hearing the cannonade, and 
some cavalry appeared on the field towards dark and thus 
added to the disquietude of Montaudon on the French 
right who, however, held fast to his main position above 

The action on the French right and centre may fairly be 
regarded as an indecisive combat, although the front 
occupied in the morning had been driven inwards, and the 
daring assailant had won some ground. On the French 
left the combat had been equally fierce, but less favourable 
to the defenders. General de Ladmirault, indeed, when 
obliged to turn and succour his comrade and subordinate, 
Grenier, had at once resolved to assume the offensive. It 
was a timely determination, for Grenier's troops had been 
pushed back and shaken, and, if left without aid, they 
would have been driven under the guns of St. Julien. But 
the approach of De Cissey, and the threatening direction 
imparted to De Lorencez, at once altered the aspect of 
affairs : for De Cissey struck in with vigour, and the Ger- 
man troops which had entered Mey retreated fast upon 
Nouilly ; then General von Manteuff el, hastening the march 
of his brigades which were still on the way to the field 


formed bis line to the north-west, between Servignj, 
NouiUj, and the mills at the confluence of the brooks, with 
a reserve at Servignj. As the guns, like the troops, arriyed 
successively, thej were arrayed on the new line, and, before 
De Ladmirault could develop his flank attack effectively, the 
1st Corps bad ninety guns in position between LauvaJliers 
and Poix, which enabled them to bar any infantry advance 
upon St. Barbe. The effect of this disposition was to frus- 
trate the aggressive designs of De Ladmirault, but he is en- 
titled to the credit of having saved his exposed division, 
and also of having made the only movement during the day 
which had the semblance of a real endeavour to strike for 
victory against a foe whose troops and artilleiy were plainly 
coming up in detachments along the whole line. Nor can 
it be denied that his vehement onset drove back the G(«r- 
mans, and recovered a large extent of ground up to the 
skirts of Nouilly and the water mills. Moreover, it gave 
great assistance to Aymard's Division of Decaen's Corps, 
and enabled it, at one moment, to scatter the companies 
operating in the angle formed by the streams, and drive 
them headlong over the ravine upon Lauvalliers. But the 
advent of German battalions, and the action of the guns, 
finally restored the combat, and as the twilight deepened 
into darkness the German right once more gained the 
ascendency, and the French divisions retired to their 
bivouacs nearer to Metz. 

Long after the sun had set, portions of the 1st Corps 
still arrived on the scene ; but then the battle was over. 
General de Ladmirault, three years afterwards, naturally 
proud of his conduct, insisted that the French had won the 
day. The German accounts, however, place the fact beyond 
dispute, since they show that the leading troops of the 
1st Corps did reach Vautoux, Mey, and Villers TOrme, 
which proves that the adversary must have retired towards 


Bellecroix and the banks of the Moselle. No doubt the 
Germans were wisely drawn back, at a late hour, and on 
that ground the French put in a claim to the victory. For 
General Steinmetz had ridden on to the field just as the 
ocmtest was coming to an end. He was angry because a 
battle had been fought, and apprehensive lest a counter- 
attack in force should be made at dawn ; so he ordered 
the Ist and 7th Corps to retire upon the positions they 
occupied on the 13th. Nevertheless, Von Zastrow, who did 
not receive the order, insisted that his Corps should bivouac 
under arms on the battlefield, so that the wounded might 
be collected, and the honour of the Army Tindicated. 

The End of the BcOtle. 
In this action the French lost not quite four thousand, 
and the Germans nearly five thousand men ; on both sides 
more than two himdred officers had been kiUed or wounded. 
General Decaen, commanding the 3rd Corps, mortally, while 
Bazaine and Castagny were slightly hurt. The French had 
actually on the field, including the Guard in resenre, with 
one brigade in the front line, three Corps d' Arm^ ; for, 
though Lorencez did not press far forward, still the whole 
force under De Ladmirault was present, and in action. 
The Germans brought up successively two Corps and one 
Division, but a large portion of the 1st could not reach 
the scene of actual fighting until dark. It is. impossible to 
ascertain exactly, and difficult to estimate the numbers 
engaged; but one fact is manifest — that the German 
assailants were numerically inferior, especially during the 
first two hours ; that the disproportion was only lessened 
between six and seven; and that, at no time, were the 
French fewer in number. Marshal Bazaine emphatically 
states, in his report to the Emperor, that he held his 


position without emplojing the Guard, which is true, but it 
is not less true that the whole front of his line was driven 
in ; and that he stood at the close within the range of the 
heavy guns in the forts. The French fought well, but they 
fought a defensive battle, and that is why they exacted from 
the assailant a much heavier penalty than he inflicted on 
them. The retreat of the Imperialists was delayed ; but in 
the Great Head-quarter Staff serious misgivings began to 
spring up, and a fear lest the habit of bringing on im- 
provised battles might not become a real source of danger. 
An able and enterprising General in command of the 
French at Spicheren and Bomy would have read a severe 
lesson to German advance-guards, and would have made 
them pay for their temerity. 

Not until a late hour did the news of the battle reach 
the king, who had established his head-quarters at Hemy, 
on the railway. Prince Frederick Charles, at Pont a 
Mousson, was only informed of the event the next morning. 
His Army, the Second, had been engaged in marching up 
to and towards the Moselle, and at eventide the several 
Corps halted at these points. The 4th Corps was over 
the Seille, and not far from Custines and Marbache, places 
just below the confluence of the Meurthe and Moselle ; the 
Guard had one division a little lower down at Dieulouard ; 
the 10th Corps, entire, was at Pont k Mousson, with 
a brigade to the westward; the 3rd, the 9th, and the 
12th, were facing the Moselle between Pont a Mousson 
and the left of the First Army, prepared eithei to frustrate 
a French advance up the right bank — a possible movement 
always present to the mind of Von Moltke — or cross the 
river. The 2nd Corps had come up to Falquemont ; and 
a Beserve Landwehr Division, under General Kummer, 
was being organized at Saarlouis. To complete the survey, 
it should be added that Gneisenau's Brigade, sent to 


surprise Thionville, an enterprise which failed, was return- 
ing to rejoin the First Army ; and that on the eYening of 
the 14th, the foremost troops of the Crown Prince's Army 
were some squadrons of cavalry in Nancy, and an infantry 
brigade in Lun^viUe. 

The French Retreat. 
Throughout the night the wearied French divisions, 
which had been either engaged in combat or standing 
under arms, filed over the Moselle, and the Emperor 
took up his quarters at Longeville, outside the town. 
Marshal Bazaine's order, dated the 13th, directed the 
whole Army on the road to Gravelotte, whence one portion 
was to continue by Mars la Tour, and the other turn off to 
the right and march on Conflans. The rigorous construc- 
tion of the Marshal's order yields that interpretation, but 
he contended, at his trial, that he merely indicated the 
general lines of retreat upon Verdun, and that the Staff 
and Corps Commanders should have used any and every 
road or track which would have served the main purpose. 
There are, or at least were, in 1870, only two roads out of 
Metz available for the mai'ch of heavy columns of troops of 
all arms and large trains — ^the excellent highway to Grave- 
lotte, which is a long defile, and the road through Woippy, 
turning the uplands on the north. All the intermediate 
lanes or cross-roads are rugged and narrow, and only one, 
that passing by Lossy, has or had any pretension to the 
character of an inferior village road. Guns and carts can 
move along and up them in Indian file, but not easily if 
numerous, and nowhere at a good pace. Thus, even, on the 
14th, the Corps of Frossard and Canrobert, who both 
started late, found the Gravelotte road so encumbered by 
trains that they could only make their way slowly, and did 


not arriye at Rozerieulles until after dark. The Emperor was 
still at Longeville, anxiously awaiting the issue of the fight 
which reyived all his apprehensions. Metz was excited and 
alarmed, and the streets were crowded during the afternoon 
and evening, with passing soldiers, guns, baggage wagons 
and proTision carts. Night brought no rest, for the G-uard 
and the 3rd Corps came hastily oyer the riyer, and were 
densely packed inside the town and outside the ramparts 
in the space between the walls and Meant St. Quentin; 
while General de Ladmirault was engaged until morning in 
passing his divisions across the Isle Ohambiire, and 
Metman had also strayed from Bellecroix to that side 
of the town. 

Marshal Bazaine had quitted Bomy at dusk. He rode 
through Metz " with di£Bculty,'* and made his way to the 
Imperial head-quarters. Here Napoleon, who was in bed, 
welcomed him with his usual kindness, and when the 
Marshal explained his fears lest the Germans should cut in 
on his line of retreat, and referring to his wound, b^^ed 
to be superseded, the Emperor, he writes, " touching my 
bruised shoulder and the fractured epaulette, gracefully 
said, ' It will be nothing, an affair of a few days, and you 
have just broken the charm.**' Apparently, Napoleon 
still clung to the belief that the allies he had sought would 
come to his aid. '* I await an answer from the Emperor 
of Austria and the King of Italy," he said ; " compromise 
nothing by too much precipitatioUj and, above all things, 
avoid fresh reverses.'* He counted on one sovereign whom 
he had defeated in battle, and another whom he had helped 
to enlarge his kingdom, and he counted in vain, partly 
because he was unsuccessful, but chiefly because the 
national political interests of both countries prevailed 
over the gratitude felt by Victor Emmanuel, and the 
desire to turn the tables on the House of HohenzoUem 


which was still strong in the House of HapBburg<* 

** You will drag us out of this hornet's nest. Marshal, 
won't you ? " exclaimed an officer, as Bazaine quitted the 
Imperial quarters. It was a task beyond his strength. 
When day dawned a thick fog shrouded the valley of the 
Moselle, and before the camp at Longeville was astir, a 
shell from the opposite bank burst near a tent, '' cut a 
Colonel in two," to use the soldatesque language of Marshal 
Canrobert, " carried ofE the leg of a battalion commander, 
and wounded two officers standing near a drummer." The 
lucky shot came from a patrol of German cavahy, which 
had ridden forward as far as the railway station, unopposed, 
and its commander, observing a camp at Longeville, had 
brought his guns into action, and proved, once again, that 
the hornets were abroad and making a bold use of their 
offensive weapons. A battery hastily ran out, and the 
heavy metal of St. Quentin drove off the intruders ; but they 
had learned that the foe was over the river before they 
retired. Soon afterwards, by Bazaine's order, a mine was 
fired, and one section of the railway bridge was destroyed. 

Then the retreat was continued. Finding the road 
obstructed by an endless stream of carts and waggons. 
Marshal Leboeuf turned aside, and struggling on, amid 
transport vehicles, threaded his way by Lossy and Chatel 
St. Germain to Vem^ville, where about seven in the evening 
he had assembled the tired infantry Divisions of Castagny 
and Montaudon ; but his cavalry and reserve artillery did 
not reach the bivouac until night ; while Aymard's Division 
was forced to halt in the defile, and Metman was at 
Sansonnet in the Moselle valley. Frossard, followed by 
Canrobert, had marched during the day as far as Rezonville, 
where both halted ; and the Guard with the Emperor and 
Prince Imperial attained Gravelotte. General de Lad- 



mirault did not fftir at all on the 15tb, he put a strict 
oonstruction on Bazaine's orders, and affected also to be 
uncertain whether he was to continue his retreat or not. 
But he had allowed Lorencez to press through the town 
and thruBt himself into the Lessy defile, where his troops, 
unable to get on, had to pass the night. These disjointed 
and irregular movements testify to the confusion of a 
hurried retreat, to the flurry which had got the upx>er 
hand, and to the absence of anything like a firm control 
over troops and generals. How could it be other- 
wise? The Emperor still commanded, or was believed 
to command, and it is plain that at no time did the 
Marshal secure prompt and cheerful obedience, or inspire 
confidence, always essential to success, and never more so 
than when an Army has to be extricated from what 
the Imperial Quardsman graphically called a '^ hornet's 

The Oemum$ cro$8 the Moselle. 
Far otherwise had the hours been employed by the 
(German host Early in the morning King William had 
ridden from Hemy to the heights above the battlefield, 
and there the Head-quarter Staff, from actual observation, 
were able to form a correct judgment on the actual state 
of affairs. At first they took precautionary measures 
against a possible counter attack, and it was not until 
eleven o'clock that, evidence sufficient to convince Yon. 
Moltke haring come in, decisive steps were taken. All the 
Corps of the Second Army were directed upon or over the 
Moselle, the 1st Corps was moved to Courcelles-Chaussy; 
and the 7th was posted at Courcelles sur Nied to guard 
the railway line and the depots ; and the 8th was on its 
left, echeloned on the Luneville road. At nightfall the 


3rd Corps had crossed the Moselle between Pagny and 
Nov^uit, where thej found the bridge intact; the 10th 
had one division at Pont a Monsson and one westward at 
Thiaucourt; the Guard was at Diculouard, and the 4th 
Corps astride the river at Marbache-Custines. The 2nd 
Corps had come up to Han snr Nied. The Crown Prince's 
advanced troops were at Nancy, St. Nicholas on the 
Meiuthe, and Bajon on the Upper Moselle. 

The Cavalry beyond the Moselle, 
But the most interesting and effective operations were 
those carried out by the 5th Cavalry Division, commanded 
by G-eneral vcm Bheinbaben. They had traversed the Mo- 
selle on the 14th, and were directed to gain the Yerdun 
road in order to ascertain the exact whereabouts of the 
French. At the same time the 3rd Cavalry Division at- 
tached to the First Army was instructed to pass the river 
below Metz and push out towards Briey ; but the French 
had removed all the boats, no crossing could be effected, 
and the division was employed elsewhere. No such ob- 
stacles arrested the 5th Division. It consisted of three 
strong brigades under Von Bedem, Von Barby, and Von 
Bredow, in all thirty-six squadrons, and was accompanied 
by two batteries of horse artillery. Leaving Barby at 
Thiaucourt to await the arrival of Bredow coming up from 
the Moselle, Bedem marched through the fog at four in the 
morning to La Chaus^, whence he detached two squadrons 
towards the Verdun road. During their absence Von 
Bedem, riding on towards Xonville, discovered and was 
fired on by a body of French cavalry on the hills about 
Puxieux. These were French dragoons detached from De 
Forton's division, then en route for Mars la Tour, and 
they .were reinforced from the main body as soon as the 


vedettes bad opened fire. The Frencli, led bj Prinoe 
Murat, ascended the hill, and soon after the Germans bad 
brought a battery to bear Murat withdrew his men, fol* 
lowed by Von Bedem. On crowning the ridge De Forton's 
division was plainly seen moving in the valley, or halting 
near Mars la Tour, supported by twelve guns. Yon Be- 
dern, who did not think it prudent to attack, retired until 
a fold of the hills gave him protection. Here he was 
joined by two squadrons of hussars, which had approached 
Bezonville, captured nine prisoners, and when pursued had 
got deftly away. The sound of the cannon had attracted, 
the rest of the brigade, and Yon Bedem again moved to- 
wards Mars la Tour, and again drew off without a fight. 
But by this time the cannonade had called up both Barbj 
and Bredow, so that there were soon thirty-four squadrons 
and two batteries on the ground. The French General, De 
Forton, who believed erroneously that German infantry 
occupied Fuxieux, was of opinion that he had fought a 
successful skirmish; jet instead of closing with enemies 
who were actually close to the line of retreat upon Yer- 
dun, he fell back as far as Yionville, and went into 
camp. Three French divisions of horse in the van of the 
retiring Army allowed a German division to sit down 
within a short distance of the Yerdun road and many miles 
from all infantry support. On the other hand, a squadron 
of Uhlans pushed almost to Conflans, and stumbling on 
Du Barail's division, was smartly punished ; but a captain 
of hussars, during the evening, rode towards Bezonville 
and halted close enough to see Frossard*s fantassins cooking 
their suppers. Meantime, the Prussian Guard Cavalry, 
moving north-west from Dieulouard, had placed its ad- 
vanced brigade at Thiaucourt ; and a squadron of Guard 
Uhlans had audaciously summoned the Governor of Toul 
to surrender. No such memorable examples of activity can 


-be found in the record of the French cavalry, which had 
forgotten the traditions of Napoleon the Great. 

Orders for the Flaiik March, 
That evening General von Moltke issued a set of memor- 
able instructions to General von Steinmetz and Prince 
Frederick Charles. The First Army was to leave a corps 
at Courcelles sur Nied, and place the others at Arry and 
Pommerieux, between the Seille and the Moselle. " It is 
only by a vigorous offensive movement of the Second 
Army," wrote Von Moltke, " upon the routes from Metz to 
Verdun by Fresne and Efcain that we can reap the fruits of 
the victory obtained yesterday. The commander of the 
Second Army is intrusted with this operation which he will 
conduct according to his own judgment and with the 
means at his disposal, that is, all the Corps of his Army." 
It was further announced that the King would transfer his 
head-quarters to Pont a Mousson in the afternoon of the 
16th. Preparations were thus made to place the whole 
force on the left bank of the Moselle, except the 1st 
Corps, the 3rd Division of Cavalry, and the 2nd which 
was still two marches from the river. In this way Von 
Moltke hoped to keep the whip hand of his opponents, 
and cut them off from the shelter they sought beyond the 

The Envperor Quits the Army. 
Before narrating the battle which the French style 
Eezonville and the Germans Vionville-Mars la Tour, we 
may turn to the Imperial head-quarters at Gravelotte at 
dawn on the 16th, because the scene presents so vivid a 
contrast to that in the German camp. When Marshal 
Bazaine saw the Emperor on the preceding evening walking 


meditatiyelj up and down before hk quarters, he was sur- 
prised by the question, " Must I go ? " The Marshal 
frankly admitted that he had not been informed respecting 
the situation* in front, and asked him to wait. "The 
answer," writes Bazaine, appeared to please him, and 
turning to his suite he said, loud enough to be heard by all, 
" Gentlemen, we will remain, but keep the baggage packed." 
The troops, sad and depressed, continued to defile before 
the inn ; no shout, no vivat was evoked by the sight of the 
sovereign and his son. Yet that night the Emperor had 
made up his mind. In the morning he summoned 
Bazaine, who found him in his carriage with the Prince 
Imperial and Prince Napoleon. The baggage had already 
gone on in the night, and the lancers and dragoons of the 
Guard, commanded by General de France, were in the 
saddle ready to serve as an escort. Bazaine rode to the 
side of the carriage, and the Emperor said, " I have resolved 
to leave for Verdun and Chalons. Put yourself on the 
route for Verdun as soon as you can. The gendarmerie 
have already quitted Briey in consequence of the arrival of 
the Prussians " — a singularly erroneous statement, but one 
showing how ill-informed the head-quarters were from 
first to last. The Emperor then drove ofE from Gravelotte 
by the road to Conflans, through the wooded ways which 
were so soon to be the scene of a sanguinary encounter. 
Three hours after he started Von Kedern's guns opened 
suddenly on the French cavalry camp near VionviUe, and 
began, by a stroke of suiprise, the most remarkable and 
best-fought battle of the campaign. 



VionviUe — Mars la Tour. 

THAT feebleness and hesitation which had been so 
conspicuous on the side of the French from the out- 
set of the campaign were not likelj to cease when dangers 
and difficulties increased with every passing hour. The 
Emperor, while he commanded, had been incapable of 
taking, not merely a bold, but any resolution, and the 
mental qualities of Marshal Bazaine were not sufficiently 
far above the average to enable him to remedy the mis- 
chievous effects of the long course of erroneous conduct to 
the heritage of which he succeeded. Moreover, neither 
Bazaine nor any other French commander, despite recent 
experiences, had formed a correct estimate of €(erman 
energy and enterprise. Least of all could they believe that 
a single Corps and two divisions of cavalry would venture 
to plant themselves across the road to Yerdun. The evil 
consequences were increased by the inactivity of the 
cavalry, and the bad, unsoldierlike habit of making per- 
functory reconnaisances carried only a mile or so to the 
front and on the flanks. Marshal Bazaine's phrase — " les 
reconnaissances doivent se f aire comme d^hdbitude '' — reveals 
the whole secret. At Wissembourg, on the 4th of August* 
General Abel Douay's horsemen returned from a short ex- 

168 THE Campaign of sedan, [chap. viii. 

cursion and reported that no enemy was near ; and at eight 
in the morning of the 16th, General Frossard was infonued 
bj the patrols which had come in that there was no adver- 
sary in force on his front. The German horse were near 
at hand, yet De Forton's cavaliers had not felt out as far as 
their bivouac. Marshal Bazaine's original intention was 
that the two corps ordered to follow the Mars la Tour road 
should start at four o'clock; and Frossard had his men 
out in readiness to move at that hour when a fresh order 
postponed the march until the afternoon. During the 
night Marshal Lebceuf, alarmed at the absence of two 
divisions and at the continued sojourn of De Ladmirault in 
the Moselle valley, had suggested that it would be better 
to stand fast until the several Corps had been once more 
brought within supporting distance ; and Marshal Bazaine 
had readily yielded to the suggestion. Still no measures 
were taken to ascertain whether foes were approaching or 
not, and the soldiers, horse and foot, took up their ordinary 
camp duties as they would have done had they been at 
Chalons in time of peace. The actual situation, if they 
had known it, required that every horse, man and gun 
should have been in motion at dawn, yet they all lingered ; 
and it may be said that neither superiors nor subordinates 
were alive to the peril in which they stood — not of defeat, 
still less rout, the odds available against German enter- 
prise were too great, — but of a blow which would make 
them reel and, perhaps, turn them aside from the paths to 
the Meuse. 

The Vionville Battlefield, 
The road from Gravelotte to Verdun passes by the 
villages of Bezonville, Vionville and Mars la Tour through 
a generally open and undulating country. The ground 


slopes irregularly and gentlj upward on all sides from the 
highway ; the villages on the route are in the hollows or 
shallow valleys. North and south of Bezonville a ridge 
separated two ravines, the lai^er, on the east, formed by 
the Jur^e brook, had its origin north of Gravelotte, the 
smaller on the west, came down also from the northern 
uplands, and parallel to its bed ran the principal road from 
Gorze to Eezonville. At the southern declivity of the 
ridge, and extending eastward as far as the Moselle, were a 
series of forests — the Bois de Vionville, Bois St. Amould, 
the Bois des Ognons, the Bois des Chevaux. To the west 
and south-west of Eezonville the country was generally 
open ; but there was a clump of trees shading a pool near 
Vionville, and, north of the high road, were larger patches 
of woods, named after the village of Tronville. North 
also of the highway, and within the French lines, wood- 
lands covered the hill sides towards St. Marcel, the hamlet 
of Villers aux Bois being seated on the highest ground. 
Along this upper plateau are traces of a Eoman road, 
running due west, the ancient route from Verdun to Metz ; 
traces visible also in the fields nearer to the fortress. The 
French occupied the higher stretches on the eastern and 
north-eastern edge of this irregularly undulating and 
wooded region. General Frossard was posted on the left 
of the line in front of Eezonville ; Canrobert on the heights 
towards St. Marcel ; Leboeuf had his troops about Vem^- 
ville, the (fuard stood at, and in rear of Gravelotte, and 
the careless cavalry brigades under De Forton and Vala- 
bregues had set up their camps west of Vionville, and 
thence kept a listless watch towards the heights and 
hollows, west and south-west, just in their immediate 


The French are Surprised. 

Suddenly, about nine o'clock, they were struck by eliells 
fired from a battery which seemed to have sprung out of a 
rounded hill a few hundred yards to the west of Yionville. 
The missiles fell among the tents and burst about a 
squadron filing up in watering order to the tree-shaded 
pool. In quick succession three additional batteries ap- 
peared on the crest and opening fire added to the confusion 
below. Murat's dragoons broke and fled and, accompanied 
by the baggage train, horses, carts, men, galloped and ran 
off towards Bezonville; and De Gramont's troopers, 
further to the rear, mounted and retired in good order up 
the northern slopes, halting on the right of the 6th Corps. 
The batteries, six in number, then moved up to a height 
closer in to Yionville and smote the infantry camps. They 
were promptly answered by the guns of Frossard's Corps, 
while his brigades stood to their arms, formed up and 
sprang forward with alacrity. About the same time, a 
solitary German battery, visible to the south, fired a few 
rounds into the French left and then withdrew over the 
crest unable to bear the storm of Chassepot bullets which 
were poured from the aroused and irritated infantry. 

The collision, so unwelcome to the French, had been 
brought about in this wise. Prince Frederick Charles had 
ordered the 8rd and 10th Corps and the 6th Division 
of Cavaby to start early in the morning and strike the 
Verdun road west of Bezonville. As General von Voights- 
Bhetz, commanding the 10th, intended to move upon St. 
Hilaire, beyond Mars la Tour, he instructed Von Bhein- 
baben to reconnoitre in the direction of Bezonville, in- 
creased his horse artillery, and supported him with an in- 
fantry detachment from Thiaucourt. About the same 
time that the 10th Corps advanced its foremost brigades 


from Thiaucourt, and the rest from Pont k Mousson, the 
3rd Corps and the 6th Division of Cavalry also made 
for the hnis west and sonth of Yionville, the right division 
proceeding by Gorze, and the left, by Buxieres, towards 
Tronville. Thus these two Corps were moving on two 
parallel curves, the 3rd being next to the enemy, and 
ihe 10th on the outer and larger arc. The Prince and 
his Ghenerals did not anticipate a battle, but they all hoped 
to fall in vdth and punish a rear-guard, or, by striking far 
to the westward, intercept and compel the French Army 
to halt and fight before it reached the Meuse. It v^as 
Kheinbaben's abrupt and thorough home-thrust which 
revealed the fact that the French had not passed Eezon^ 
Tille, or, at least, that a large part of the Army was near 
that village. His advance-guard, three squadrons and a 
battery, had moved within musket-shot of De Forton's 
camp ''without encountering a single patrol ; " and, taking 
advantage of such supineness, his artillery, hastening for- 
ward, created the panic near YionviUe, which has already 
been described. Frossard's Corps, which always behaved 
well, speedily took up defensive positions. Bataille occu- 
pied Vionville and Flavigny, and the high ground above 
the villages; Verge prolonged the line to the left, and 
placed one brigade facing south to front the Bois de Yion- 
yille, and connect the array with Lapasset's brigade on the 
ridge which, from the north, overlooked the Bois St. 
Amould and the ravine leading to Gorze. The 6th Corps, 
encamped north of the main road, continued the hne on 
that side, and rapidly developed a front facing- south-west 
between the highway and the Roman road. The sound of 
the cannonade was heard as far off as Jamy and Conflans, 
st<artled LeboBuf at Yem^ville, and aroused the Marshal, 
busy in his quarters at Gravelotte, 


The Third Corps strikes in. 
Sheiubaben's bold horsemen and gunners bad done 
their work ; they had gained for the oncoming infantry 
that species of moral advantage which always accrues from 
a surprise. As they fell back to more sheltered positions 
behind the swelling hills, the right wing of the 3rd 
Corps, under Stulpnagel, entered the field from the south ; 
the left wing, directed by the fiery Alvensleben himself, 
came down into the arena from the south-west, and several 
batteries, urged on by Yon Bulow, dashed up and formed 
the centre of the assailants. Indeed, the guns were in 
action before the infantry could march over the distance 
between their starting points and the outward spray of the 
French line of battle ; so that for an appreciable interval 
the groups of batteries had to depend upon themselves. 
Yet not for long. StiilpnageVs battalions plunged into 
the dense woods on the right, and waged a close combat 
with the skirmishers of Jolivet's br^de, who were slow to 
give ground. Beyond the thickets, the left wing of the 
division drove Yalaz^'s skirmishers from an eminence, the 
highest in those parts, and a battery was speedily in action 
on its bare summit. By degrees, as they came up, the 
battalions of the 10th Brigade went forward on the left, 
or western, flank of the height, where the contest, con- 
ducted with vigour on both sides, eddied to and fro, until 
the German onset, repeated and sustained, gained the 
mastery, and cleared the slopes so effectually that five 
other batteries, driving up the hill as fast as they could 
clear the defile, took ground on its top, and gave support 
to the companies in the wood and on the open down. 
About an hour was consumed in this desperate work, made 
all the more arduous because the German infantry pushed 
eagerly into the fight, not in compact masses, but one 


battalion after another as each straggled up to the front. 
Major-General Doering was killed, and many officers went 
down in this sanguinary strife : one battalion which dashed 
forward to resist a French attack at a critical moment lost 
every officer. But as it retired, broken and wasted, the 
French were smitten in turn by its comrades, forced to 
give way, and the p si ion was, at this heavy cost, secured. 
For the troops engaged in the forest had now attained the 
northern edge of the Bois de YionvUle, the batteries on 
the lofty hill were safe, and* Stulpnagel's Division was 
solidly established upon the most commanding uplands in 
that part of the field. 

To their left rear was the 6th Cavalry Division; but 
between them and the fields west of Vionville were no in- 
fantry, only lines of guns, protected by a few squadrons of 
horse. For the 6th Infantry Division, coming on from 
Buxi^ries, had gradually wheeled to the right until they 
faced to the east, the 11th Brigade crossing the high road, 
north of Tronville, the 12th moving upon Vionville; so 
that they formed a line of attack directed upon Bataille's 
division which held Vionville and Flavigny, having on its 
right, beyond the Verdun road, the division of Lafont de 
Villiers belonging to Canrobert's Corps. While Stulpnagel 
was striving to obtain a grip of the woods and heights on 
the French left, Buddenbrock, the other divisional com- 
mander, acting under the eyes of his chief, threw the 
weight of his division upon the two villages which covered 
what was then the French centre. Vionville was first 
carried by the usual turning movement, and its capture 
was followed by the outburst of a still more murderous 
conflict. The French had brought up more and heavier 
pieces, and these poured a crushing fire into the village. 
The Germans answered by continuing the attack on the 
French infantry. Tet so confused was the engagement on 


the bare bill side, so completely was it a ** soldiers' battle," 
such was the swaying to and fro of the mingled companies 
which, crushed and mangled, yet welded themselves to- 
gether and pressed on, that, once more, the official German 
historian renounces the task of minute description. But 
the effect of the hurly-burly was soon manifest— Bataille's 
entire division, unable to endure the torment, and seeing 
its General fall wounded, went about and retired ; Yalaze's 
brigade, " taken in flank," says Frossard, by a German 
battery, and losing its gallant commander, also marched 
off through Rezonville ; and the nearest brigade of Oan- 
robert's Corps likewise receded, either under pressure or 
weakened in purpose by example. The Germans paid a 
great price for the immense advantage secured; but as 
Flavigny fell into their hands, as the left of Stulpnagel's 
Division joined in its capture, and as the front of battle 
was now no longer an arc but its chord, the prize was well 
worth its cost. The sole reinforcements which had arrived 
to aid the 3rd Corps, were two detachments, parts of the 
same brigade, abd pertaining to the 10th which, on their 
way to join that Corps then moving westward, had turned 
aside, attracted by the magnetism of the cannonade. How 
much of the success obtained was due to the valour, devo- 
tion, and endurance of the artillery may be gathered from 
the French narratives. No troops could have fought with 
greater hardihood and dash — ^not fleeting, but sustained — 
than the infantry of the 3rd Corps, all Prussians from 
the Mark of Brandenburg. But they had their equals 
among the dauntless gunners, deserving to be called 
" tirailleurs d^artUlerie" who literally used their batteries 
as battalions, dragging them up to the very outward edges 
of the fight, often within rifle-shot, and when pressed, re- 
tiring some scores of paces, then halting and opening at 
short range upon their pursuers. The line, composed of 


groups of batteries, especially in the forenoon, was the 
backbone of tbe battle. 

Arrival of Bazaine. 
Just as Frossard's infantry, yielding to the vehement 
presstire, retreated behind Eezonville, Marshal Bazaine 
appeared on the scene, and rode into the thick of the con- 
test. At Frossard*s request he directed a Lancer regiment, 
supported by the cuirassiers of the Guard, to chaige and 
check the pursuers. The Lancers went forth with great 
spirit, but soon swerved aside, broken by the in&mtry fire. 
The Guard horsemen, however, led by General du Preuil, 
rode home upon the eager and disordered companies who 
were marching to the east of the flaming vill^e of Flavigny. 
But these foot soldiers, reserving their fire until the mailed 
cavaliers were within two hundred and fifty yards, plied 
them with shot so steadily that the squadrons swerved to 
the right and left, only to fall under the bullets from the 
rear ranks which had faced about. ''The cuirassiers," 
says General du Preuil, " were broken by the enemy's in- 
fantry, which received them with a murderous fire. After 
the charge, the wreck of the regiment rallied at Eezonyille, 
haTing left behind on the field 22 officers, 24 boub offidersy 
about 200 men and 250 horses. When the regiment was 
re-organized, instead of 115 mounted men per squadron, 
there were only 62 ! " Colonel von Bauch had close to 
Flavigny two Hussar r^ments ; with one he pressed on 
the flying cuirassiers, and with the other charged the 
French infantry struggling rearward. Bazaine had just 
brought up, and was posting a battery of the Imperial 
Guard, when the Hussars charged down upon him, taking 
the battery in front and flank. It was here that the Mar- 
shal was surrounded, separated for a moment from his 


staff, and obliged, as he himself says, to '' draw his «word." 
Two squadrons of his escort came to his relief, and a rifle 
battalion opened upon the Prussian horse, who had to 
retreat, leaving behind the battery which they had tem- 
porarily seized. General Alvensleben had ordered up the 
6th Division of Cavalry, but when they arrived, Bazaine 
had brought forward the Grenadier Division of the Guard 
to replace the 2nd Corps in the front line, for Jolivet's 
brigade, on the French left, had also retired to the high 
ground in its rear. The 6th formed up to the south of 
Flavigny and advanced, but they could not make any im- 
pression upon the re-invigorated enemy, and they drew 
back, having lost many officers and men. " This demon- 
stration, apparently without any result," says the official 
German account, " was still useful, since it provided the 
artillery with an opportunity so vehemently desired of 
pressing up nearer to the front." In fact, the lines of the 
artillery were now between the edge of the wood of Vion- 
ville and Flavigny, and to the right, left, and front of 
Yionville itself — a distinct approximation towards the 
French infantry and guns ; so that there were changes on 
both sides, with the difference that the French brought up 
fresh troops, while the same German guns, horsemen and 
infantry continued the struggle. 

The crisis of the battle had now arrived ; for General 
von Alvensleben, in order, to diminish the violent pressure 
on his left, which was beyond the Verdun road, had been 
obliged to thrust his sole reserve of infantry into the 
deadly encounter. Colonel Lehmann, commanding a 
detachment of the 10th Corps, consisting of three bat- 
talions and a half, had come up to the outskirts of the 
field in the forenoon, and he was directed to take post near 
Tronville. When, in consequence of the reverse inflicted 
on Frossard, Bazaine arrayed the Guard in front of 


IBezonville and Canrobert put bis reserre brigades into line 
on tbeir right, and both estabUshed their reserve artiUery 
on the heights to the north and east, Alvensleben sent 
forward Lehmann's battalions, which, with great difficulty, 
managed to keep their ground in the copses of Tronville 
beyond the Verdun road. It was about two o'clock in the 
afternoon and the German leader had no reserves, every 
foot soldier and gun was engaged, while the greater part of 
the 10th Corps was still remote from the field. Luckily for 
him, the reports of the fugitive peasantry and the steady 
advance of the German right through the southern woods, 
aroused in the mind bf Bazaine a fear that he might be 
turned on his left, a fear shared by at least one of his 
subordinates. He, therefore, caused the Guard Voltigeurs 
to form front to the south in the Bois des Ognons, so as to 
watch the ravines, down one of which the Mance flowed to 
Ars, and in the bed of the other the Jur^e ran to Nov^ant. 
Lapasset, who barred the road from G^rze, was reinforced 
by a regiment of Grenadiers, and Montaudon's division of 
the 8rd Corps was taken from Leboeuf and placed near 
MaJmaison, a little to the north of Gravelotte. Thus the 
French line, instead of standing north and south, faced 
generally to the south-west, between the Bois des Ognons 
and the high ground north of the copses of Tronville. At 
this time Leboeuf, with one division and a half — ^for Metman 
had not yet joined him — was moving south-west from 
Yem^ville, and Be Ladmirault's divisions — for he had 
quitted the Moselle valley in the morning — were only just 
showing their leading troops towards Doncourt. Never- 
theless, Canrobert, who had developed a strong line of 
guns as well as infantry on the right of Picard's Grenadiers, 
both on the face and flank of the German left, determined 
to attempt the recapture of YionviUe and Flavigny. He 
was led to do so by a belief that the partial cessation of the 


German fire indicated exhaustion, and, aided by the whole 
of his artillery, he certainly delivered a formidable onset 
carried up to the very outskirts of the two villages. It was 
then that Alvensleben called upon the cavalry to charge, 
solely with the object of gaining time and relieving the 
wearied foot, and hardly-treated gunners. 

Bredow'8 Brilliant Charge. 
Bredow's heavy brigade, the 7th Cuirassiers of Magde- 
burg, and the 16th Uhlans of Altmark, eight squadrons, 
from which two were withdrawn on the march to watch 
the Tronville Copses, was selected to assail Canrobert's 
destructive batteries and stinging infantry. Yon Bredow 
drew out his two regiments, led them into the shallow but 
protecting hollow on the north of Yionville, and, without 
pausing, wheeled into line on the move, so that the array 
of sabres and lances fronted nearly eastward. Then break- 
ing into a headlong gallop the troopers rushed like a 
torrent over and through the infantry on their broad track 
and into the batteries, near the Boman Boad, which for 
the moment they disorganized. But now the French horse 
swarmed forward on all sides, and the survivors of Yon 
Bredow's heroic men, having cheerfully made the heavy 
sacrifice demanded from them, turned about to retreat 
through the French infantry, punished as they rode back 
by De Forton,Gramont, Murat andYalabr^guewho brought 
up three thousand dragoons, chasseurs and cuirassiers 
against the remains of the devoted brigade. Yon Bredow 
sought safety behind Flavigny, whither Yon Bedem had 
ridden up with a regiment of hussars, but he did not attack 
because the hostile cavalry halted in their pursuit. The 
charge had cost the Magdeburgers and Altmarkers U 
oflioers and S68 men, nearly oiie-half the strength with 


wliicli thej started on their astoiiiBhing ride ; but the 
glorious remnant had the proud satisfaction of knowing 
that the two regiments had put an end to offensiye attacks 
from the side of Eezonyille» that their infantry comrades 
of the Brandenbui^ Corps had received effectual succour in 
time of need, and that the steadfast artillery had gained 
precious moments which they used to prepare for fresh 

The Fight hecomea Stationary. 
Daring the next three hours, and, indeed, to the end 
of the day, the combat on the German right and centre 
remained stationary, varied by desperate attempts to win 
ground from the Imperial Grenadiers which cost many 
lives and achieved no marked success. Seven fresh 
batteries, however, came successively into action, so that 
about four o'clock, the German line of guns, between the 
wood of Yionville and Flavigny had been increased to more 
than a hundred pieces and their fire efiEectually stayed 
the French from advancing. Some portions of the 7th, 
8th and 9th Corps, which had struggled up from the 
Moselle valley during the sultry afternoon, entered the 
woods, were pushed up the ravine road from Gorze, or 
were thrown forward in front of the big battery which was 
the mainstay of the left wing. Prince Frederick Charles 
himself arrived about four o'clock. He had ridden straight 
from Pont k Mousson on learning that a serious engage- 
ment was afoot, and as he cantered up to the front he was 
heartily welcomed by the men of the 3rd Corps which he 
bad commanded for ten years. 

Arrival of the Tenth Corps. 
Surveying the scene from the lofty upland above the 
wood for a timei he rode off to another eminence vmx 


Flayign J, because the stress of battle was then on the left 
wing, where the rest of the 10th Corps, so long absent 
from the field, had appeared just in time to encounter the 
fresh troops which had been led forward by Marshal 
Lebceuf and General de Ladmirault. When Yon Bredow*s 
Brigade rode against Canrobert's Corps, Yon Barby's horse 
were sent to guard the extreme left against a surprise from 
the masses of French troops gathering on the Doncourt 
hills. Thej pushed far northward, and sustained a 
cannonade from the enemy, who soon forced them to 
retreat; for Lebceuf, with Aymard's Division — ^Bazaine 
had now called for Nayral's as well as Montaudon's — 
moved down towards the Tronville thickets, and Ladmirault, 
whose in|antry had at length reached him from the Moselle 
valley, sent Q-renier forward in line with Aymard. These 
two divisions, driving the horsemen back towards TronviUe, 
at once assailed the woodlands, so often named, and com- 
bining their attack with that of Tixier, whose division 
formed the right of Canrobert's Corps, they expelled the 
German infantry from the northern section of the wood. 
Lehmann's Hanoverians and the wreck of the Branden- 
burgers gave ground slowly, but, after an hour's severe 
bush-fighting, the left of the 3rd Corps was obliged to 
yield, and nothing restrained the advancing French infantry 
save the terribly effective fire of theGl^rman gunners, upon 
whom the brunt of the battle fell. As the most forward 
German guns were retired south of the highway, Grenier 
sent three batteries over the ravine, and fortune seemed, 
for the first time, to favour the Imperial soldiers. But, 
at this trying moment, the 20th Division of the 10th 
Corps — ^the men had already marched that day twenty- 
seven miles — appeared on the heights of Tronville. General 
von Kraatz, its commander, brought with him eight 
battalions, four squadrons, and four batteries, an opportune 


reinforcement, which had been led thither because the 
summons, given by faint reverberations of a heavy can- 
nonade, heard at Thiaucourt, had been clenched by the 
arrival of a note written on the field of battle. 

The artillery, as usual, took the lead, hastening to the 
field across country, and, before the infantry could advance 
twenty-four guns in action north of Tronville, checked the 
French skirmishers, and obliged Grenier's batteries to re- 
cross the ravine. Then the foot went into the wood, and 
soon chased the French from all the copses except a patch 
on the north. At this time, General de Ladmirault, who 
had been joined by heavy masses of cavalry, had on the 
heights, near the farm of G-reyfere, abundance of artillery 
and De Cissey's Division. On his right ran a deep and 
steep ravine towards Mars la Tour ; he was about to cross 
this obstacle, and had, in fact, entered the hollow, intending 
to sweep down upon the German left, when he became 
aware that a strong hostile body was approaching from the 
west. It was General von Schwarzkoppen, commanding a 
division of the 10th Corps. He brought on to the field the 
38th brigade, diminished, however, by detachments to five 
battalions, two companies of pioneers, twelve guns, and 
six sqTiadrons of Dragoons of the Guard. General de 
Ladmirault's proceedings had been closely watched by 
some German horse, and his advance-guard of Chasseurs 
d'Afrique had been driven out of Mars la Tour by the 
Dragoons of the Guard. Seeing the oncoming enemy, he 
hastily recrossed the ravine, and placed De Cissey and his 
artillery in position to resist any attack. The intelligence 
that an enemy had shown himself on the west had run 
along the French line, and had induced Grenier and 
Leboeuf to suspend their apparently prosperous onset, thus 
diminishing the pressure upon Von EIraatz in the Tron- 
ville wood, and also on the artillery, which had been so 


long engaged near Vionyille. Gleneral Schwarzkoppen 
had, during the day, marched to St. Hilaire on his way to 
the fords of the Mense; but, hearing the cannonade, he 
halted, sent out patrols, and finally moved off towards the 
battle, guided bj columns of dust, clouds of smoke, and the 
deep-toned muttering of the rival guns. When he reached 
Mars la Tours, Yoights-Bhetz, the Corps Commander, rode 
up. Both he and Prince Frederick Charles, who watched 
the fight from a hill above Flavignj, were under the delusion 
that the French right could be taken in flank by an attack 
from Mars la Tour; and Yon Wedell, who commanded the 
newly-arrived brigade, was ordered to fall on. But, for 
once, the German Staff did not show their far-famed skill; 
for they did not reconnoitre the ground, nor had they 
observed the formidable array of De Cissey's brigades. Von 
WedeU's men dashed forward with alacrity, but found in 
their path a deep hollow, which covered the French front, 
as well as flank, on that side. Nevertheless, the battalions, 
in two lines, hurried down one bank and up the other, and 
then met an entire French Division. A brief and bloody 
fight at close quarters — the opposing lines were separated 
in some places by only fifty yards — ensued ; but so con- 
tinuous and deadly was the French fire that the sturdy 
Westphalians had to yield. Their dead and dying covered 
the summit, and filled the hollow way ; two-thirds of the 
16th Eegiment were left on the field, and the whole brigade, 
shattered into a shapeless crowd of fugitives, hurried to 
the rear. Then forward to their succour came bounding the 
2nd Dragoons of the Guard, Colonel von Auerswald at 
their head, spurring headlong to the front through the 
disordered crowd, taking the hedges and ditches in their 
stride, and galloping furiously into the midst of the 
pursuing French, who had leaped forward from the right 
of Grenier's Division. It was a hopeless charge — ^a ride to 


certain death — but the readiness of the Dragoons saved 
the right of the brigade ; yet at great cost, for they left 
dead on the field their brave Colonel, a Major, and three 
Captains. Nine officers in all, and seventeen men were 
killed; four officers and sixty men were wounded; while 
one officer and five men were captured. Two of Count 
Bismarck's sons, privates in this regiment, rode in the 
charge; the eldest, Herbert^ was shot in the thigh, 
the youngest, Wilhelm, a stout trooper, lifted a wounded 
comrade on to his horse, and carried him off the field. 
The charge of the Dragoons enabled the broken 
battalions to draw oft towards TronviUe, but the guns in 
position still held on near Mars le Tour, west of which, 
towards Yille sur Yron, a horse battery and a squadron of 
the 2nd Dragoons of the Guard were engaged in a smart 
skiinnish with a body of Chasseurs d'Afrique. This en- 
counter was followed shortly afterwards by 

The great Ca/valry Combat. 
Ladmirault had sent six regiments of horse over the gully 
on his right — Legrand's Hussars and Dragoons, Du Barairs 
solitary regiment of Chasseurs d'Afrique, and the superb 
brigade of Lancers and Dragoons of the G-uards commanded 
by General de France. On the other side Yon Barby's 
brigade had approached Mars la Tour during the fatal 
attack upon De Ladmirault's infantry, and soon after it was 
joined by two squadrons of the 4th Cuirassiers, the 10th 
Hussars, and the 16th Dragoons. Sweeping round to the 
north of the village, Barby formed up his troopers in the 
narrow space between the Yron and the Grey^re ravine, 
while Legrand and his comrades showed their compact 
masses to the north. The French regiments were placed 
in echelon, Legrand's Hussars, led by General Montaigu, 


on the left, €k>iidrecoiirt'8 Dragoons on his right rear, and 
next the Guard Lancers and Dragoons. The Chasseurs 
d' Afriqne were behind alL The first shock fell upon the 
13th Dragoons which, having taken ground to the right, 
had only time to wheel partiallj into line before Montaigu's 
Hussars rode through the squadron's interrals, and it 
would haTe fared ill with the Prussians had not Colonel 
Ton Weise plunged in with the 10th Hussars and overset 
the French. Yon Barbj on the left, at the head of the 
16th Uhlans and 19th Dragoons, met the French Guard 
Cavalry in foil shock, and then ensued a furious confused 
fight upon the whole line. Each side endeavoured to fall 
upon a flank, and the squadrons swayed to and fro amid a 
huge cloud of dust. Suddenly, a squadron of Prussian 
Guard Dragoons, returning from a patrol, came riding 
across country from the west and struck the flank of the 
French Guards. Du Barail's Chasseurs d'Afrique and 
Gondrecourt's Dragoons dashed into the meUe, but the 
Westphalian Cuirassiers drove like a wedge into the oppos- 
ing ranks, and the 16th Dragoons fell upon and smote 
them in flank and rear. L^rand was killed, Montaigu 
wounded and a prisoner, and the French cavalry, wheeling 
about, rode out of the fight, throwing into disorder a 
brigade of Chasseurs, which had been sent by General de 
Cl^rambault to cover the retreat. The €h»llic horse had 
brilliantly sustained their reputation, yet they were over- 
matched by the Teutons, who also lost three commanding 
officers. But Yon Barby was able to reform his victorious 
squadrons on the plateau and withdraw them at leisure, 
watched, but not pursued, by a squadron of Dragoons be- 
longing to De Cl^rambault's division. General Ladmirault 
surveyed the field from the heights of Bruville, and came 
to the conclusion that no more could be accomplished by 
the French right wing. He had only two divisions, his 


cavalry had been defeated, and he " discovered " between 
Tronville and Yionville " an entire Corps d'Armfe." So he 
rested and bivouacked on the hills about the Grey^re farm. 
The forces of his next neighbour on the left, Lebceuf , had 
been reduced to Aymard's division, for Marshal fiazaine 
had called away Nayral to support Montaudon near Bezon- 
ville; indeed, at one moment he had abstracted one of 
Aymard's brigades, but, yielding toLebceuf s remonstrances, 
he sent it back. 

End of the BaMle. 
It was now past seven o'clock, and both sides were ex- 
hausted by the tremendous strain which they had borne so 
long ; yet the battle continued until darkness had settled 
over the woods and villages and fields. For Bamekow's 
division and a Hessian brigade had entered the woodlands 
and pressed forward on the G-orze road, creating new alarm 
in. the mind of Bazaine, who throughout the day was 
governed by his belief that the Germans intended to turn 
his left and cut him off from Metz. So that when Colonel 
von Bex pushed boldly up the ravine against Lapasset and 
his flankers opened fire from the edge of the Bois des 
Ognons, the French Commander drew still more troops to 
that flank. Between RezonviUe and the ridges near Grave- 
lotte he had, by eventide, placed the whole of the Guard, 
Frossard's Corps, Lapasset's brigade, and one-half of 
LebcBuf s Corps. Fearing the storming columns which ever 
and anon surged outward from the woods towards the com- 
manding heights south of Eezonville, Bourbaki brought up 
fifty-four guns and arrayed them in one long battery. The 
closing hours of the day witnessed a stupendous artillery 
contest, which was carried on even when the flashes of flame 
alone revealed the positions of the opposing pieces. The 


thick smoke increased the obscnrily, and yet within the 
gloom bodies of Gkrman infantiy, and even of horse, sallied 
from the woods or vales and vainly strove to reach the 
coveted crests or storm in npon Bezonville itself. At the 
very last moment a violent cannonade bnrst forth on both 
sides, yet to this day neither knows why it arose, where it 
began, or what it was to effect. At length the tired hosts 
were quiet ; the strife of twelve hours ended. The Qerman 
line of outposts that night ran from the Bois des Ognons 
along the Bois St. Amould, then to the east of Fiavigny 
and Yionville through the Tronville Copses ; and after the 
moon rose upon the ghastly field the cavalry rode forth and 
placed strong guards as far westward as l^rs la Tour and 
the Yron. The French slept on the ground they held, the 
heights south of Bezonville, that village itself, and the 
ridges which overlook the highway to Yerdun as far as 
Bruville and Grey^re. It had been a day of awful carnage^ 
for the French had lost, in killed and wounded, nearly 
17,000, and the Germans 16,000 men. 

It is impossible to state exactly the numbers present on 
the field— probably, 125,000 French to 77,000 Germans. 
The latter brought up two complete Corps, the 3rd and 
10th, two divisions of cavalry, the 5th and 6th — ^these 
sustained the shock and bore the chief loss — a brigade of 
the 8th Corps, the 11th Begiment from the 9th, and 
foiur Hessian regiments of that corps under Prince Louis, 
the husband of the British Princess Alice. They also had, 
in action or reserve, 246 guns. The French mustered the 
Imperial Guard, the 2nd Corps, three divisions and one 
regiment of the 6th Corps, three divisions of the 3rd, and 
two of the 4th Corps, five divisions of cavalry, and 390 
guns ; so that on the 16th, they were, at all times, numeric* 
ally superior in every arm. When Alvensleben came into 
action a little after ten o'clock with the 3rd Corps and 


two diTisions of cavairj — ^perhaps 33,000 men — Hiej bad in 
their front the 2nd and 6th Corps, the Guard, and the 
Beserve Cavahy — ^not less than 72,000, the guns on the 
French side being always superior in number. The 3rd 
Corps, less one division, was at ten o'clock only three miles 
from the field ; these and half the 4th Corps arrived in the 
afternoon, adding more than 50,000 men to the total, while 
the Germans could only bring up the 10th, and parts of 
the 8th and 9th, fewer than 40,000, some of them 
marching into line late in the evening. The French 
Marshal, who fought a defensive battle, did not use his 
great strength during the forenoon, or in the afternoon 
when his right wing had wheeled up to the front. The re- 
sult was an " indecisive action " — ^the phrase is used by the 
official €(erman historian — ^and that it was indecisive must 
be attributed, at least in part, to the fact that Marshal 
Bazaine, nor he alone, stood in constant dread of an over- 
whelming inroad of " Prussians " on his left, with intent to 
cut him off from Metz and thrust him, unprovided with 
munitions of all kinds, on to the Briey-Longuyon road. 
But it may be inferred from the mode in which the battle 
was fought by the French commanders, from the first shot 
to the last, that the Germans had obtained a moral 
ascendency over the leaders and the led, and that such an 
ascendency had a great influence upon the tactics, as well as 
the strategy, of Marshal Bazaine and his subordinates in 
command. Nothing supports the correctness of this inference 
more strongly than the fact that an Army of 120,000 men 
considered a great success had been achieved when it had 
resisted the onsets of less than two-thirds of its numbersi 
and had been driven from its line of retreat I 



DAEKNESS had set in, and the last shot had been 
fired, when Marshal Bazaine rode back to his head- 
quarters at Gravelotte. There he became impressed with 
the scarcity — " penurj " — of munitions and provisions ; 
there he acknowledged to the Emperor that the direct road 
to Verdun had been closed, and that he might be obliged 
to retreat by the north ; and there he wrote the order which 
was to move his entire Army the next day nearer to Metz. 
The troops began their retrograde march as early as four 
o'clock, by which hour Prince Frederick Charles was up on 
the hill above Plavigny, intently watching his antagonists. 
Eezonville was still occupied by infantry, a cavalry division 
was drawn up between that village and Vemdville until late 
in the forenoon, and the marches of troops to and fro kept 
the cautious German Commanders, for some time, in a state 
of uncertainty. 

It has now to be shown how they had employed the 16th 
outside the area of the conflict, where the several Corps 
stood in the evening, and by what means the G-reat Staff, 
on the 17th, acquired the knowledge that the " Army of the 
Bhine " had retired upon the line of hills immediately to 
the westward of Metz. 

The movement of troops comes first under notice. On 




the extreme left the 4th Corps haying crossed the 
Moselle at Marbache, had pushed forward in a south- 
westerly direction, part of the Corps making a dashing but 
fruitless attempt to intimidate the garrison of Toul, so im- 
portant because it barred the railway to Chalons, and at the 
end of the day was still under orders to march upon the 
Meuse. The Q-uard, preceded by its cavalry, advanced from 
Dieulouard to several points half-way between the Moselle 
and the Meuse, the right being at Bemecourt and the left 
about Beaumont. The 12th Corps, Saxons, crossed the 
Moselle at Pont a Mousson, and had one division there and 
one about Eegnieville en Haye. The 2nd Corps, still 
approaching the Moselle by forced marches, had attained 
villages east of the Seille. It will be readily understood 
that, as the 4th and 2nd Corps were so far distant 
from the centre of action west of Metz, they could hardly 
be moved up in time to share in the impending struggle ; 
and they, therefore, for the present, may be omitted from the 
narrative. It was otherwise with the remaining Corps, and 
it was the aim of the Great Staff to bring them all up to 
the Verdun road. 

From the very earliest moment. General von Moltke 
held the opinion that the full consequences of the action on 
the 14th could only be secured by vigorous operations on 
the left bank of the Moselle ; and as the reports came in 
from the front on the 16th, that sound judgment was more 
than confirmed. The Eoyal head-quarters were transferred 
in the forenoon to Pont a Mousson, whither King William 
repaired ; and Von Moltke, who had preceded the King, 
found information which led the general to the conclusion 
that a new chapter in the campaign had been opened. 
Accordingly, he desired to push up to the front the largest 
possible number of troops, so that he might, if such a de- 
sign were feasible, have ample means wherewith to shoulder 


off the French to the northward, and sever their communi- 
cations with Chalons. At this stage, the idea of shutting 
them up in Metz had not yet been conceived. The 7th, 
8th and 9th were ordered to hasten forward on the 
road towards Yionville, and some part of them, as we have 
seen, were engaged on the 16tL Extra bridges were erected 
on the Moselle, the roads were cleared of all impediments, 
and the results rewarded the foresight, energy and goodwill 
displayed by officers and men. The 12th Corps was 
eighteen, and the Guard twenty-two miles from the battle- 
field, but so keen and intelligent were their commanders, 
that, inferring from the information they received what 
would be required of them, they stood prepared to execute 
any order as soon as it arrived. The former body, indeed, 
marched oft northward in the night, and sent word of the 
fact to the Guard, which led the commander to assemble 
the divisions on the instant and stand ready to step forth. 
So that when the formal orders were brought, the Guard 
started at five in the morning, when the Saxons were already 
on the road. The 8th Corps, or rather its remaining 
division, were on the way at dawn, preceded by the 9th» 
and followed by the 7th from its cantonments on the 
left bank of the Seille. Thus the whole available portions 
of the Second and First Annies were in motion, to sustain 
the 3rd and 10th, if they were attacked on the 17th ; to 
act, as circumstances required, if the French abandoned 
the battlefield. 

Prince Frederick Charles, who had slept at Gk>rze, took 
horse at dawn, and reached his watch-tower on the hill 
south-west of Flavigny at half-past four o'clock, early 
enough to distinguish by the increasing light the French 
line of outposts between Bruville and Bezonville. About 
six o'clock the King joined the Prince, and at the same 
time the 9th Corps took post near the right wing of thA 


3rd. What the staff had now to determine was whether 
the French intended to retire or attack, and if thej retired 
whither they went. Patrols, busy on all sides, gave in con- 
tradictory or rather discordant reports, which for some time 
left it doubtful whether the retreat was not actually being 
carried out by Oonflans on the Briey road; but by de- 
grees the head-quarters arrived at the conclusion that the 
French would not attack, that they had not withdrawn far, 
and that the task of grappling with them must be deferred 
until the next day. Soon after noon, when General 
Metman, acting as rear guard, quitted Eezonville, there 
were on or near the field no fewer than seven German 
Corps and three divisions of cavalry; so that had the 
French renewed the battle for the Verdun road, even early 
in the morning, they would have found it a severe task to 
make their way at least along the southern or Mars la Tour 
high road. About eight in the morning G-eneral von 
Moltke had dictated an order on the height near Flavigny, 
in obedience to which the 7th Corps marched by Borny 
and Ars upon Gravelotte, following the Mance brook, and 
occupying the woods on the right and left; while the 
8th, already in part on the field, ascended the water- 
course and ravine which gives access to Bezonville. The 
object of the double movement was to accelerate the retreat 
of the French from these places. It was not accomplished 
without some wood-fighting, but about half-past three 
General Metman withdrew his flankers, and glided out of 
sight beyond the ridge near Point du Jour. But the firing 
had alarmed Yon Moltke, who, dreading lest the fiery 
Steinmetz should bring on a general or even partial en- 
gagement, sent him positive orders to stop the combat. 
The veteran, however, pressed forward himself with Von 
Zastrow, Von Kameke and their staff officers. Emerging 
from the woods into the open, they beheld across the deep 


ravine the iVench camps on the opposite plateau, and eyen 
discerned the works thrown up by the careful Frossard to 
cover his guns and infantry. A mitraiUeuse at once 
opened fire on the group of horsemen, and drove them awaj, 
but not before they had seen enough to prove, when com- 
bined with the cavalry reports from the north-west flank, 
that the French Army was encamped on the heights to the 
west of Metz, and had not attempted to withdraw by any of 
the still open roads towards M^zi^res or Chalons. There- 
fore, the German armies halted, and the Generals had a 
little leisure to frame a plan of operations for the 18th. 

Marshal Bazaine. 
Human ingenuity has imputed various motives to the 
French Marshal, some of them being discreditable to his 
loyalty, all based on a low estimate of his character as a 
man, and capacity as a soldier. His own account is that he 
did not persevere in trying to effect his retreat, either by 
force or skill, partly because the Army was not well sup- 
plied with food and munitions, and partly, as is apparent 
from his evidence and books, because he had formed a 
military theory which he proposed to work out near Metz 
to the disadvantage of the enemy. He held that he had a 
strong post on the flank of the German communications, 
and that, if he could make his adversaries waste their 
troops in repeated attacks upon " inexpugnable'* positions* 
he might be able to resume the offensive when the Army 
at Chalons should take the field. Secretly, we suspect, he 
had become imbued with a belief or apprehension that what 
the French call the moral of the Army had been seriously 
impaired ; that their staying power in action was not what 
it should have been, and that they could not be trusted to 
perform so delicate an operation as a long flank march 


within reach of a foe exalted hj victoiy, aided bj a potweifal 
and audacious cavalry, and an infantij capable of marching 
twenty miles a daj, and enjoying the adTantage of greatly 
superior numbers. As usoal, the motives of Baasaine were 
''mixed/' but there does not seem any good reason to 
believe that he was selfishly disloyal to the Emperor, 
faithless to France, or insensible to the charms of " glory." 
His chief defect was that he did not possess sufficient 
military competence to command a large Army — a defect 
he shared with his comrades of high rank ; and his misfor- 
tune was that he succeeded to an inheritance of accumu- 
lated error entailing severe penalties, from the infliction of 
which only a rare genius, like that of the First Napoleon, 
could have saved himself and his Army. 

Active war^e had now continued for a fortnight, and 
at sundown on the 17th of August the "Army of the 
Bhine" found itself obliged to form front facing, not 
Berlin, but Paris ; while the formidable Armies of King 
William, with their backs to the French capital, turned 
their eyes towards the Bhine. 

The Battlefield of Oravelotte. 
Whatever may have been his motives. Marshal Bazaane 
directed his Army to retire upon a position of exceptional 
strength on the heights to the westward of Metz, which look 
towards the wooded ravine of the Manoe brook throughout 
its course, and beyond its source over the undulating plain 
in the direction of the river Ome. This ridge of upland 
abuts on the Moselle near Ars, is covered at its broad 
southern end by the Bois de Yaux, is intersected by the 
great highway from Metz to Verdun, which is carried 
along a depression where the wood terminates, and over 
the shoulder above Gravelotte. North of the road the 
high ground, with a westerly bias, runs as far as Aman* 



Yillers, and thus trending slightly eastward, ascends to St. 
Privat la Montagne and Boncourt, and back to the Moselle 
bottom lands below Metz. The left of the position, 
opposite the Bois de Yaux, is curved outwards, its shape 
being indicated by the high road, which, after bending 
round and creeping up the hill as far as Point du Jour, 
turns abruptly to the west, and crosses the Mance upon a 
causeway east of Gravelotte. This bulwark, occupied by 
Frossard's Corps, from near Point du Jour to St. Buffine 
in the lowlands, was made more formidable by shelter- 
trenches, field works, and gunpits. The two houses at 
Point du Jour were pierced for musketry, and the immense 
quarries in the hill-side, at the elbow of the ridge facing 
the Mance, were filled with troops. IShe only mode of 
reaching the front was either up the narrow causeway by 
St. Hubert, or across the deep ravine. Behind this strong 
front the ground sloped inwards, so that the troops and 
reserves could be, and were, screened from view as well as 
from fire. In the bottom stood the village of Bozerieulles ; 
and above, the eminences on which the engineers had 
planted the forts of St. Quentin and Plappeville. The 
hollow through which the highway ran was bordered 
with vineyards, and near to Metz villages and houses 
clustered thickly astride of the road. On the right of 
Frossard were the four divisions forming the Corps of 
LeboQuf , extending as far as the farm of La Folie, opposite 
Verndville. Here the ground was high and open, yet also 
sloping to the rear as well as the front, and its chief 
strength lay in the strongly-built farmsteads of St. Hubert, 
seated on the roadside just above Q-ravelotte, in those of 
Moscow and Leipzig, standing on the bare hiU-side ; and 
in the Bois de Genivaux, a thick wood, which 'filled the 
upper part of the Mance ravine. Beyond the 3rd Corps 
lay the 4th, under De Ladmirault, having its left in 

CHAP. IX.] pressed' back ON METZ. 195 

the farm and chateau of Montigny le Grange* and its 
right at, and a little north of, Amanvillers, a considerable 
village, planted in a depression at a point where one of the 
roads from Metz quits the deep defile of Chatel St. Ger- 
main, and bends suddenly westward to join, at Habon- 
ville, the road to Briey. The track of the railway, then 
unfinished, ascends this wooded gully, and winds on to the 
open ground at AmanviUers. The country in front of the 
ridge, from that place to Boncourt, is an extensive open 
descent, which has been compared to the glacis of a 
fortress, at the foot of which stand the villages of Habon- 

» viUe, St. Ail, and St. Marie aux Chenes. On the southern 
edge of this succession of bare fields is the Bois de la 
Cusse, which was not, strictly speaking, a continuous wood, 
but a sort of common irregularly strewed with copses ; 
and on the north were the valley of the Ome and the woods 
bordering its meandering course. The 6th Corps, Can- 
robert's, occupied and guarded the right flank, having an 
outpost in St. Marie, and detachments in the villages 
beyond Eoncourt ; but placing its main reliance on St, 
Privat, which, looked at from the west, stood on the sky line, 
and, beingnearly surrounded by garden walls, had the aspect 
of a little fortress. The Imperial Guard, considered as a 
reserve, was drawn up in front of the fort of Plappeville, 
on the east side of the deep ravine of St. Germain. The 
fort of St. Quentin looked well over, and protected the 

^ whole of the French left, and served especially as a support 
to Lapasset's Brigade at St. Euffine, which faced south. 
Here the edge of the position touched the suburbs of Metz, 
and was within cannon-shot of the right bank of the 
Moselle, opposite Jussy. 

It will be seen that the battlefield may be divided into 

J two portions, differing from each other in their external 
aspects. The bold curved ridge held by Frossard rose 


between two and three hundred feet above the bed of the 
Mance, having in rear ground still higher, and was backed 
by the mass upon which stands Fort St. Quentin. It was, 
indeed, a natural redoubt open to the rear, covered along 
its front by the steep sides of a deep ravine, and accessible 
only by the viaduct built over the brook, a solid embank- 
ment, except where a vaulted opening allowed the stream 
to pass. On the French side of the bridge was the strong 
farmstead of St. Hubert, well walled towards the assailant ; 
and further north the thick woods of Genivaux, which ran 
near to and beyond the farm of Leipzig ; so that while a 
deep gully protects Frossard, Lebceuf had defensive out- 
posts in the wood, which he intrenched in a series of 
recessed field works, and in the stout farm buildings, 
which stormers could only reach by passing up gentle 
acclivities, every yard whereof could be swept by fire. The 
right half of the line was different in every respect from the 
left — for there was no wood, and the whole front, from 
Amanvillers to Roncourt was, for practical purposes, 
though not so steep, as free from obstacles as the slope of 
the South Downs. The left and centre were supplied with 
artificial defences, but the right, which did not rest on any 
natural support, and might be turned, was not fortified by 
field works, because Marshal Canrobert's intrenching tools 
had been, perforce, left behind at Chalons. The great 
defects of this " inexpugnable " position were that it had 
bad lateral communications, no good lines of retreat, and a 
weak right Bank. Marshal Bazaine, who misjudged the 
formidable strength of his left wing, and gave his opponent 
the credit of contemplating an attack on that side, had 
taken post in Fort Plappeville, where he placed the reserves, 
and whence he could not see the right, which it does not 
appear that he had ever examined. The penalty for so 
grave an error was the loss of the battle. 


The German Plans, 
Before starting from the hill over Flavignj for Pont k 
Mousson on the afternoon of the 17th, General von Moltke 
had issued an order to Prince Frederick Charles and Yon 
Steinmetz, indicating the operations which were to begin 
the next morning. Their purport was that while the 
7th Corps stood fast, and the 8th leant towards the 
right of the Second Army, the Corps composing it should 
move forward, left in front, facing north. It was a 
general direction, intended to place the troops in such an 
array as would enable them to strike and stop the French, 
if they still sought to reach Chalons by the northern roads, 
or by a right wheel bring the whole German force to bear 
ux>on the enemy if he were found in position before Metz. 
By six o'clock on the morning of the 18th, King William 
and his staff were once more on the height near Flavigny, 
soon after which' time the whole Army was in movement, 
and a sputter of musketry had begun on the extreme right 
between Frossard's foreposts and those of the 7th Corps 
in the woods. The 8th had come up near to Bezon- 
▼ille; the 9th was moving between that village and St. 
Marcel; the Q-uard was passing Mars la Tour; and 
the 12th was on the road to Jarny. Behind, in second 
line, were the lOth and 3rd, the 5th and 6th divisions 
of cavalry being attached to the latter Corps respectively ; 
while the 2nd Corps, which had bivouacked at Pont & 
Mousson, had started on another forced march, in order, 
should there be a battle, to enter the field before dark. 
The morning wore away, and, except on the right where 
his left was visible and his skirmishers active, no 
evidence of the enemy's presence could be found. The 
Saxon cavalry division, scouting northward and west- 
ward, lighted only on stragglers and patrols ; the horse- 


men and staff officers out in front of the other Corps 
watching as well as thej could the moyements of the 
French, sent in divergent statements, leaving it doubtful 
where their main bodj was, and what it was doing or in- 
tended to do. G-reat uncertaintj, in short, prevailed until 
after ten o'clock, and even then General von Moltke and 
the staff were under the impression that the French right 
was near Montigny la Grange; but, believing that the 
adversary would fight, an order went forth at 10.30 a.m., 
which finally brought the German Armies into line facing 
eastward. Meantime Prince Frederick Charles had, by 
degrees, also arrived at the conclusion that the French 
would accept battle, and, at half-past ten, he likewise in- 
structed General von Manstein to move towards La Folie 
and begin an attack with his artillery, provided the enemy's 
right was not beyond Amanvillers. Immediately after- 
wards, while Yon Moltke still believed that the flank he 
wished to turn was at the last-named village, the Prince 
acquired certain information, from a Hessian cavalry 
patrol, that the French right rested on St. Privat la 
Montague. By such slow degrees was the long-sought 
flank discovered. Orders were then given directing the 
12th and the Guard to wheel to the right and move on 
St. Marie aux Chenes and Habonville; but before they 
could come into line, Manstein's guns were heard, and Yon 
Moltke became apprehensive lest the exciting sounds of 
conflict would carry away the impetuous Steinmetz, lest 
the First Army, always so eager for battle, might strike in 
prematurely and injure a combination which depended so 
much upon a simultaneous onset. Accordingly, the rein 
upon that General was tightened, and he was told that he 
might use artillery, yet not do more with his infantry than 
attract the notice of the enemy and keep his attention on 
the strain. But so thoroughly were the chiefs of the 


German Corps imbued with the same principles of conduct, 
that the Prince Bojal of Saxony and Prince Augustus of 
Wurtemberg had already, in anticipation, prepared to play 
the part which was to be assigned them. Having learned, 
from their own scouting parties, where the French right 
stood, and having heard the guns at Vem^ville, they had 
both wheeled their divisions to the eastward, and pushed 
out their advance Guards. Thus they were ready to march 
at the moment when the order arrived ; in fact, the order 
was in course of execution before it reached the officers to 
whom it had been addressed. Meantime, acting on the 
first instructions from the Prince, drawn up when he 
believed the right rested on Amanvillers, General von 
Manstein, a little before noon, had begun 

T^e Battle of QraveloUe, 
At this moment, it should be noted, the French camps 
on the right centre and right did not know that an 
enemy was within a long mile of their bivouacs. The usual 
patrols had been sent out and had returned — even scouts 
selected by the local officials for their knowledge of the 
country — to report that they had not seen anybody. 
Marshal Canrobert, in his evidence on the Bazaine court- 
martial, expressly testifies to the fact, and adds that the 
first intimation he received came from the boom of hostile 
guns on his left front. The troops of Ladmirault's Corps, 
encamped on both sides of Amanvillers, were peacefully 
engaged in cooking their noontide meal, when General von 
Manstein, who seems to have been endowed with some of 
the impetuosity of his namesake, who figured in the wars 
of Frederick II., riding ahead of his corps, caught sight of 
the quiescent camp. The temptation could not be with- 
stood. From the hills near Yerneville he could not see the 


troops at St. Privat, but he had been informed hy the 
Hessian Cavahy that the French were there. He had 
been formallj enjoined to attack if the enemy's right was 
near La Folie ; it was much to the north of that farm ; yet 
Manstein, unable to neglect the opportunity of startling a 
negligent camp by an outburst of fire, sent the solitary 
battery which had accompanied him into instant action 
from a rising ground east of Yerncyille. The first shot 
was fired at a quarter to twelve, and its successors roused 
the French line from St. Privat to the centre, for Frossard 
and Lebceuf seemed to have been on the alert. General 
von Blumenthal, with the leading infantry battalions, was 
at that time moving on the farm of Chantrenne, and he 
was stopped by the lively musketry salute which greeted 
his men. Manstein, seeing that his guns were too distant 
from their living targets, now ordered the battery forward, 
and it was soon joined, first by the divisional then by the 
corps artillery ; the whole finally forming a long line of 
fifty-four pieces, each battery having, as it dashed up, 
wheeled to the right and opened fire. The movement was 
a grave error, for the long rounded hill on which the 
batteries stood fyced south-east, offered no shelter except 
on its low right shoulder, and the guns were exposed to a 
fire from the front, the flank, and even from the left rear. 
Two batteries were slewed round to the left, but that did 
not remedy the original mistake. There were no infantry 
at hand to keep down the fire of the French foot, which, 
lurking in the hollows, sent a hail of bullets among the 
guns. Committed to this false position, the superb Ger- 
man artillerymen did their utmost to make it good ; but 
no heroism could avail against its cruel disadvantages. 
General Blumenthal, indeed, had carried the Chantrenne 
farm, but the enemy, at the first shot, had thrown a 
garrison into another homestead named Champenois, 


whenoe the chassepots smote the front of the batteries. 
The Hessians, also, had developed a powerful attack 
through the Bois de la Cusse towards the railway embank- 
ment and Amanyillers, thus taking off some of the severe 
pressure from the devoted gunners. But the French 
infantry crept nigher and nigher ; under the rush of shells, 
shrapnel, and bullets, officers, men, and horses fell fast and 
faster. Bj concentrating their aim the Germans crushed 
one or silenced another battery ; by using shell they some- 
times scattered oncoming infantry; still the penalty of 
haste and a wrong direction had to be paid. The left 
battery, disabled, was caught in the tempest and borne 
down by a rush of French foot. Two pieces were dragged 
away by hardy men and wounded horses ; two were left 
on the field ; and two were captured. Yet this astonishing 
artillery, though horribly shattered, continued to hold its 
ground. It was saved, at a later moment, from a per- 
severing attack on its vulnerable flank by the steady onset of 
an infantry battalion, which lost nearly half its strength 
in succouring the guns. Then, for the position was really 
untenable, all the batteries, except three on the right, 
where there was a little shelter, at length drew reluctantly, 
in succession, out of the shambles and went rearward to 
refit. It was half-past two ; they had been more than two 
hours in the jaws of death, and had lost no fewer than 210 
officers and men and 370 horses. So audaciously, if some- 
times unwisely, was this grand arm employed in battle 
that no one need be astonished to learn how Canrobert, 
who loved a picturesque phrase, called his dreaded and 
admired opponents, " tirailleurs d^ artilleries 

Prince Frederick Charles at ths Front. 
Manstein, who was to have attacked the French right, 
had dashed somewhat impetuously against the right centre* 


and for some two hours Ids Corps sustamed the brunt of 
the engagement, for the G-uards and the Saxons were still 
on the march, the first heading for Yern^ville and Habon- 
▼ille, the second on St. Marie aux Chenes, into which Gan- 
robert had hurried three battalions. North of the artillery, 
whose bloody adventure has been described, the Hessian 
diyision, under Prince Louis, posted astride of the railway 
embankment, which, running from Amanvillers to Habon- 
ville, cut the line of troops at right angles, held the copses 
of the Bois de la Oasse, and, supported by thirty guns, 
formed the backbone of the German attack in that exposed 
quarter. Further south, the other half of the 9th Corps, 
the 18th Division, had its reserves near Yem^ville, with 
troops established in Chantrenne and L'Envie; but they 
could make no way, because the French were solidly 
planted in Champenois, in the Bois de Gbnivaux, in a 
spinney projecting to the westward of La Folic, in that 
farm and on the higher ground above. About half-past 
two the contest in the centre had become defensive on the 
part of the 9th Corps, and the energies of the leaders 
and the troops alike were taxed to retain the ground 
already occupied and extricate the artillery. Prince 
Frederick Charles, on learning just before noon, from the 
cavalry reports, where the French right actually stood, 
became anxious when he heard at St. Marcel the uproar of 
a hot artillery engagement, and he rode off at once towards 
the sound and smoke which rose in clouds above the 
woods. On reaching Habonville he was able to survey the 
conflict, and also discern, in outline, the enemy's position 
at St. Privat. The great head-quarters were still imper- 
fectly informed, yet they wished to restrain precipitate 
action and prevent a home-thrusting central attack until 
strong bodies could be launched against the French right. 
The Prince, however, saw that the combat could not be 


broken off, and he set himself to make all secure by 
placing a brigade of the Guard, as a reserve, to assist the 
9th Corps, which was all that Manstein requested, and 
bj ordering up four batteries from the 3rd Corps, the 
infantry masses of which were not far from Yem^ville. 
Prince Augustus of Wurtemberg had preceded the Guard 
Corps, and as soon as General Pape, commanding the 
1st infantry division, arrived with the advanced guard it 
was arranged that his four batteries should go into action 
to the south-west of Habonville, that is on the left of the 
much-tried Hessians, and cover the march of the Guard 
towards St. Marie. The spot first selected for the guns 
was found defective, and the batteries, at a gallop, took up 
new ground further to the left, to the south-west of St. 
Ail. Thereupon, that village was occupied by the Guard ; 
Prince Augustus sent for the corps artillery, and soon nine 
batteries were arrayed between the two villages, on a 
diagonal line pointing to the north-west, that is, so dis- 
posed as to bring to bear a heavy fire on St. Privat, a 
succour which gave further relief to the gunners of the 
9th Corps. For not only Canrobert's cannon, but his 
infantry, lurking in the shallow valleys along the front, 
now directed their shells and bullets upon the Guard 
batteries. Although the French did not attempt any 
heavy stroke, they were active and enterprising, and kept 
their swarms of skirmishers within a thousand yards of 
the guns, but, as the official historian remarks, over and 
over again, beyond the range of the needle-gun. Before 
three o'clock the Guard Corps was up, and the 12th, or 
rather half of it, had approached near St. Marie. Such 
was the condition of the battle on that side ; and it is now 
necessary to describe the daring operations of the First 
Army, on the German right wing. 


Steinmetz Attacks the French Left. 
It will be remembered that the 7th and 8th Oorps, 
commianded by Yon Steinmetz, upon whom it was neces- 
sary to keep a tight hand, had been brought up to the 
south and west of Gravelotte, the left of the 8tJi touch- 
ing Manstein's right. The 7th provided the outposts 
which lined the fringe and salient of the Bois de Yaux, and 
these troops were engaged in an intermittent and bickering 
contest with the French infantry thrown out upon that 
flank. The 1st Division of Cavalry, from the right bank, 
crossing the Moselle at Borny, rode up about noon as a 
support, and General von Fransecky, preceding the 2nd 
Corps, assured the King, whom he found near Flavigny, 
that one division would arrive in time to form a reserve for 
the First Army. Yon Steinmetz, on a height near Grave- 
lotte, nervously observed the French, sent in repeated in- 
formation that they were moving off, and evidently desired 
to adopt the tactics which he had applied on two previous 
occasions. He was ordered to be still, and when the guns 
spoke atYem^ville, Yon Moltke, knowing their effect upon 
the veteran warrior, intimated afresh that he must stand 
expectant yet awhile. Permission was given, as already 
mentioned, to use his guns ; but when the despatch was 
handed to Steinmetz he had already opened fire with the 
batteries of the 7th Corps, arrayed to the south, and of 
the 8th to the north of Gravelotte ; and the infantry had 
been moved eastward to the edge of the region just clear 
of the French fire. The troops in the Bois de Yaux were 
reinforced, the mill of the Mance and the gully itself were 
occupied, and an ample force was posted above the ravine 
to protect the line of guns. 

The expectant attitude, always distasteful to Yon Stein- 
metz, was not, and in the nature of things could not be 


long maintained by the First Army. The generals on the 
spot knew more accurately what had occurred in the centre 
than the G-reat Staff when the order to look on was written. 
G^eneral von Gk)eben, knowing how deeply Manstein had 
committed the 9th Corps, felt bound to attack in order 
that he might detain and provide employment for the 
French left. From a point near Gravelotte he could see 
the masses of troops held in reserve by Leboeuf and 
Frossard, and, with the ready assent of his immediate 
chief he pushed forth columns from both his divisions. On 
the south of the high road the soldiers disappeared in the 
deep gully of the Manoe, their path marked by puffs of 
smoke as they drove back the French skirmishers, and re- 
appeared climbing the opposite slope leading to the huge 
quarries below Point du Jour ; but here, struck and repelled 
by the defenders, they vanished again into the depths, where 
they held on to the gravel pits in the bottom. Nearer the 
high road, one battalion wedged itself in to the quarries 
close to St. Hubert ; while beyond the highway, the (Jer- 
mans dashed through the wood, established themselves on 
its eastern border above and about the farmstead, and 
stormed the stone parapets set up by the French foreposts 
at the confluence of the two streamlets which form the 
Mance. Farther they could not go, because LeboBuf 's men 
stiffly held the eastern patch of woodland, while the open 
ground towards the Moscow farm was swept by musketry 
flre from the deep banks in the cross-roads, from the shelter 
trenches above, and from the loopholed buildings of the 
farm. But the attack on the Bois de Genivaux aided 
the men of the 9th Corps, who, from Chantrenne, had 
entered its northern border, and compelled the defenders 
of the lines in front of Moscow to turn upon the new assail- 
ants. Then the companies which had gathered about St. 
Hubert became engaged in a destructive contest, for the 


walls were high and well garnished, and the northern point 
of attack was more or less commanded by the higher ground 
towards Moscow. On the south front, howeyer, there 
proved to be more chances of success. ' 

Belying, perhaps, on Frossard's infantry and guns, the 
discharges from which commanded the high road, the 
garrison had forgotten to barricade the gates, doors, and 
windows ; and when the place had been cannonaded by the 
southern line of guns, the assailants, who had suffered 
great loss with unflinching hardihood, came on with an 
irresistible rush, and carried the farm by storm. The feat 
was accomplished about three o'clock ; and the work done 
gave a solid support to the German right wing. At this 
time, the German guns, so well fought, having taken more 
forward positions, had mastered the French artillery, which 
sank into comparative silence. There were seventy-eight 
pieces in action on the south of the high road, and fifty-four 
on the north, and their superiority is admitted and recorded 
by Frossard himself, who saw his batteries idle or with- 
drawn, his reserves smitten, and its defenders literally 
burnt out of the farm buildings at Point du Jour. Yet 
the French left was not shaken, it was hardly touched, by 
a vehement attack which had given the Germans a better 
defensive position, indeed, but still one only <m4he verge of 
Frossard's stronghold, and affording no facilities for a rush 
against the fortified lines occupied by the 3rd French 
Corps, in the thickets of Genivaux and on the brow of the 
bare hills. 

The capture of St. Hubert was nearly coincident with 
that stage in the heady fight before Yern^ville which saw 
the Hessians embattled on the Bois de la Cusse, the exposed 
axtillery of the 9th Corps in retreat from a false position, 
uid the opportune appearance of the Guard about Habon- 
ville and of the Saxons to the north-west of St. Marie. In 


front of their main line the French held the latter village, 
were well forward in the hollows west of Amanvillers, stood 
fast in the farms of La Folie, Leipsic, Moscow, Ohampenois, 
and that portion of the Bois de Genivaux which covered 
the eastern arm of the Mance. The fight had raged for 
more than three hours, and they had only lost possession of 
the L'Envie and Ohantrenne, places distant from their 
front, and St. Hubert, which, no doubt, was a dangerous- 
looking salient within a few hundred yards of the well-de- 
fended ridge where the high road turned at right angles 
towards the blazing farm of Point du Jour. From end to 
end, therefore, and it was between seven and eight miles in 
length, measured by an air-line, the whole of Bazaine's 
formidable position was intact. The Imperial Guard, the 
effective reserve, still stood on the heights east of Chatel St 
Germain, behind the left, and six miles from the right 
where the battle was to be decided. 

Operations hy the Oerman Left Wing. 
The two Corps, forming the left wing of the German 
Army, had been guided far more by the reports brought in 
by daring cavalry scouts, than by the orders received either 
from Prince^ederick Charles or Von Moltke, because these 
latter were necessarily less well-informed than the Corps 
commanders who were the first to receive the information. 
Yet the latter, of course, while taking their own line con- 
formed to the governing idea, which was that the French 
right flank, wherever it was, should be turned. Moving 
eastward from Jarny, with the 12th Corps the Crown 
Prince of Saxony learned before two o'clock, that Eoncourt 
was the extreme northern limit of Canrpbert's Corps, and 
he, therefore, varied a head-quarter's order to march upon 
St. Marie, by directing one division, the 23rd, under Prince 


Gkorge, to march down the right bank of the Ome, throngh 
Aubon^, and turn to the right upon Boncourt. One brigade 
of the 24th Diyision he directed on St. Marie, keeping the 
other back as a support. About the same time the whole 
of the Guard, except one brigade detached to back up the 
9th Corps, had formed up near Habonville, and their 
batteries, as we have seen, had taken up a position which 
enabled them to smite St. Privat. When, therefore, General 
Pape had moved up the Guards by the ravine west of St. 
Marie he found the Saxons ready to co-operate with him in 
driving out the French battalions occupying the pretty 
viUi^e which has the air of a small rural town. It sits at 
the foot of the long bare incline leading down from St. 
Privat, traversed by a straight road bordered, as usual, by 
tall scraggy trees ; and nestling amid gardens and walled 
inclosures shines out a cheerful white spot in the diversified 
landscape. From this point, St. Privat looms dark and 
large on the hill-top, larger and darker lookiug than it 
really is. To the southward of that village, beyond a dip, 
down and up which the cottages creep, stands the farm- 
stead of Jerusalem, and further south the ground rolls 
away towards Amanvillers. More than a mile of open 
country separates St. Privat from St. Marie, affording no 
lurking places to either side, except such as can be found in 
the gentle swelling and falling of the fields ; indeed, to the 
casual observer the smoothness of the surface seems broken 
only by the poplars on the highway. "West of St. Marie 
there is a shallow ravine, and beyond it copses, and south, 
as we know towards Vem^ville, more copses, ruddy brown 
farmsteads, and white villages. At this moment the battle- 
smoke puffed out, curled, rose in fantastic clouds, or rolled 
along the ground, upon the hill-sides and above the thickets 
and bams ; about St. Marie, however, the air as yet was 
untainted by the sulphurous mists of combat so rank a mile 


away, but the garrison stood painfully expectant of the 
coming fray. For though the Guards were hidden the 
Saxon brigade to the north-west was visible, and the 
skirmishers driven from St. Ail, told how the " Prussians " 
were mustering for the onset. 

Suddenly lines of skirmishers appear, gun after gun 
drives up, the Saxon artillery reinforcing the pieces which 
the Guard can spare, until three distinct lines of batteries 
are formed and open on the village. The German Generals, 
who judged the place to be stronger and more strongly 
garrisoned than it was, had brought to bear overwhelming 
forces — ^probably also to save time ; so that, after enduring 
a hot cannonade from seventy-eight guns, the French bat- 
talions, who had borne the bombardment and had spent 
abundance of ammunition in return, did not await the 
shock of the storming columns sent against them, but fled 
by the eastern outlet to their main body. The Guard and 
the Saxons, who had come on with ringing hurrahs, swept 
into the place on all sides ; some prisoners were taken, but 
the greater mass of the defenders and the French battery 
which had kept up a flank fire on the approach to the 
south fBuce of the village, got safely up the hill. When 
they were inside St. Marie the assailants were able to see 
that " the adversary had done nothing to increase, by arti- 
ficial means, the defensive value of a post, naturally strong ; 
and had even neglected to barricade the roads and paths by 
which it is entered." The truth is that the occupation of 
St. Marie by the French was an after thought, and that 
although defensible in itself the place was far too remote 
from the main French line of battle to be supported ; and 
the garrison, which no doubt, in a different temper, might 
have died fighting in the streets and houses, yielded when 
they felt the hail of shells and saw the impending storm- 
daud of infantry ready to burst upon them. The de- 



fenders hastened towards Boncourt and St. Privat, losing 
men from the fire of their exulting enemies, who followed 
on the eastern side until stopped by the chassepot and the 
guns on the hills. Thus a point of support was secured in 
that quarter, about half -past three, but no advance could 
be made until the artillery had prepared the way, and the 
turning column had made further progress in its march. 

Nevertheless, the Saxon troops on the north of St. Marie 
and some who had been engaged in its capture, carried 
away by their ardour and the sight of a retreating foe, 
pursued so far and were so promptly reinforced that a 
fierce infantry fight ensued. For a French brigade, led by 
General P^chot, dashed out of their Unes, struck roughly 
on the front and turned the left flank of the Saxons who, 
being obstinate, held the slightly uneven meadow lands 
with great difficulty and much loss. Although they were 
aided by their own batteries and those of the G-uard which 
had been moved forward on the front between St. Ail and 
Habonville, and whose fire smote diagonally the French 
columns rushing out of Boncourt and St. Privat, yet the 
Saxons were overmatched ; and, after much labour, as they 
were nearly all spread out in skirmishing order. General 
Nehrdorff, who comprehended the situation, and saw the 
waste of effort, gradually drew them back to the original 
line. The French counter attack, swift and sharp, was 
well sustained, and the bold Saxons paid a heavy price for 
their temerity. While this combat was in progress, the 
Crown Prince of Saxony from a height in front of Aubou^, 
gazing intently towards Boncourt, made an important dis-> 
covery — ^he saw troops in movement to the north of that 
village, and, in fact, Canrobert*s outposts extended nearly 
to the Ome. Thus, after a long search, yet not before 
four o'clock, the extreme right of the French Army was at 
length found, and thereupon the turning column of horse. 


foot, and guns, one-half Prince George's division, was 
ordered to take a still wider sweep northward ere it 
wheeled in upon the French rear. As it marched stealthily 
on its way, the Saxon artillery developed a long line of 
batteries pointing towards Roncourt, protected by Crau- 
shaar's brigade, which made a lodgment in the western 
block of a deep wooded ravine on the left of the guns, and 
stood ready to dash forward when their comrades emerged 
from the villages and copses behind the French right. In 
the centre the troops of the 9th Corps had stormed and 
occupied the farm of Champenois, had tried again, with- 
out success, to win the eastern tracts of the Bois de 
Genivaux, and, supported by 106 guns, had maintained a 
sanguinary contest with Leboeuf's steady brigades, en- 
sconced over against them in the farms, thickets, and 
hollow ways. About five o'clock the fury of the battle 
diminished for a moment, in the centre, on the left, and 
even on the right, where, down to that hour, it had raged 
with a spirit and vigour which must now be described. 

General Froseard Bepels afresh Attack. 
The enormous defensive strength of the position held by 
General Frossard's Corps does not seem to have been 
thoroughly understood by anyone except that accomplished 
engineer. Marshal Bazaine did not perceive its value, for 
he was perpetually afraid that the Germans would break 
in upon it, either from the Bois de Vaux or by the high 
road, and his apprehensions or prejudices were confirmed 
when a column of troops was seen to be ascending the 
river-road from Ars towards Jussy, near St. Euffine. 
General von Steinmetz, on the other hand, who had peered 
out from every available height between the Bois des 
Ognons and Gravelotte, although each attack which he 


had directed had been repelled, thought he discerned 
Bjmptoms of weakness and even of retreat. The truth is 
that Frossard's men were well hidden, not less bj the 
natural features of the ground than bj the trenches which 
he had dug and the breastworks which he had thrown up. 
Jf his batteries were silent or withdrawn it was because, 
although overpowered in the gun fight, they were jet still 
able to arrest the onsets of infantry ; and if the French 
fantassins were inyisible, it was because they were lying 
down or arrayed on the reverse of the ridge. The hot- 
tempered General of the First Army, however^ surmised, 
after the capture of St. Hubert, that troops had been 
detached to aid the distant right, or that a moment had 
come when, if pressed home by an attack of all arms. Point 
du Jour could be carried and the French driven headlong 
into Metz. Under the influence of this delusion he rode 
up to Q^neral von Goeben, who was watching the battle 
near Gravelotte. Captain Seton, an Indian officer who 
was present, noticed the violent gestures and rapid talk of 
Steinmetz because they offered so strong a contrast to the 
steady coolness of the younger warrior. At that moment 
he was expounding opinions and issuing orders which 
brought on one of the most brilliant and destructive 
episodes in the battle. Goeben had already sent forward 
Gneisenau's brigade, partly on and partly north of the 
road, but they were needed to feed the combat, support 
the weakened and scattered companies, and secure St. 

What Steinmetz now designed was a home-thrust on 
the French position ; and, accordingly, he ordered several 
batteries of the 7th Corps and Yon Hartmann's cavalry 
division to cross the Gravelotte defile and plant themselves 
on the gentle acclivities to the south of the road. Now 
the highway runs first through a cutting, is then carried 


on an embankment, and only near St. Hubert are the 
gentle southern slopes above the gully accessible to horses 
and guns« But this narrow track swarmed with troops, 
into the midst of which came the cavalry and artillery. 
The infantry gave way and four batteries arrived on the 
opposite side of the defile, followed by the 9th Uhlans. 
But so deadly was the storm of shot which burst from the 
French position— for cannon, mitrailleuse, and chassepot 
went instantly to work — that two of the batteries were at 
once driven into the ravine below. The Uhlans actually 
xode out into the open, took up a position, and remained 
until it was plain to all that the lives of men and horses 
were bein^ uselessly sacrificed. The other regiments, 
" well peppered," had already gone " threes about " before 
clearing the defile, and the Uhlans, who were dropping 
fast, rode back, as well as they could, to Gravelotte or the 
jsheltering woods. A more extravagant movement has 
rarely been attempted in war, or one less justified by the 
evident facts of the situation as well as by the deadly 
results. Yet two batteries actually remained, one, under 
Captain Hasse, in the open, about seven hundred yards 
from the French lines of musketry ; the other, commanded 
by Captain Gnugge, covered in front by the low wall of 
the St. Hubert garden, but lending a flank to the adversary 
at the top of the road. Captain Hasse and his gunners 
were stubborn men; they fought their battery for two 
hours, in fact, until nearly aU the men and horses were 
down. Even then Hasse would not retire, and one of his 
superiors was obliged to hurry up fresh teams and forcibly 
drag the guns away. But the battery under the wall held 
on, and did good service by firing on the French about the 
Moscow farm. 

The failure of these mistaken attacks and the retreat of 
guns and horsemen seems to have shaken the constant 


Gknnan infantry, for thej gave ground everywhere but at 
St. Hubert, and the French came on with such vigour that 
General Steinmetz himself and his staff were under a 
heavy fire. Fortunately three fresh battalions plunged 
into the combat ; but they could not do more than sustain 
it ; for every attempt made to approach the French, either 
towards the Moscow farm or Point du Jour, met with a 
speedy repidse. Indeed, do?m to five o'clock, the point of 
time at which we have arrived, along the whole line, no 
progress whatever had been made by the G-erman right 
wing, which held on to St. Hubert, the ravine of the Mance, 
and the western portion of the Bois de Gknivaux, but 
could not show a rifle or bayonet beyond in any direction. 
It was only the powerful German artillery which still 
remained the superb masters of the field, so far as their 
action was concerned. 

It was at this time that King William and his staffs 
which included Prince Bismarck, rode up to the high 
ground above Malmaison, where he established his head- 
quarters in the field, and whence, until nearly dark, he 
watched the battle. Over against him, concerned respect- 
ing his left, and ignorant of the state of the battle on his 
right, was Marshal Bazaine, in the fort of Plappeville, 
whither he had returned from St. Quentin, which com- 
manded a wide view to the south and south-west. He 
says that he gave General Bourbaki discretion to use the 
Guard wherever it might be wanted. But that officer knew 
little more than the Commander-in-Chief. An hour or two 
earlier, taking with him the Grenadier Division of the Guard, 
he had started towards the north, following a hilly road 
east of the St. Germain ravine. He had seen the immense 
mountain of white smoke which towered up in the north- 
west, but the current of air, hardly a wind, apx)arently blew 
from the south-east, since at Plappeville he could not hear 


the roar of the guDs, and the view was so obstructed that 
he could not obtain even a glimpse of the country about 
St. Privat. H^ had to leave behind him the Voltigeurs 
and. Chasseurs of the Q-uard, who were partly in reserve 
and partly posted to support Leboeuf , who called up one 
regiment from Brincourt*s brigade. Bazaine had also sent 
some guns to support Lapasset in his contest with the 
troops which Von Q-olz had marched up from Ars to the 
woodlands and vineyards opposite St. Euffine. The 
French at this stage were still in good spirits. K Leboeuf 
^was a little anxious behind his farmsteads, his woods, and 
skilfully-disposed re-entering echelons of shelter trenches ; 
Frossard, who soon after relieved his front ranks from the 
reserve, was content; and De Ladmirault, as was usual 
with him, believed that he might be almost considered 
victorious, and only required a few battalions of the Guard 
to insure his success. The ammunition on both sides was 


running out here and there; indeed, Canrobert declares 
that he was compelled to borrow from De Ladmirault; 
still there was enough to last out the day. Over the seven 
or eight miles of flame and smoke and tumult, for a brief 
interval, came what may be called a lull compared with 
the deafening tempest of sounds which smote on the ear 
when the rival combatants raged most fiercely. 

The last Fights near 8t Hubert. 
For some time longer the German right wing did little 
more than defend its somewhat irregular hue of front. 
The 2nd Corps, which had been marching every day 
since it quitted the Saar, had attained Eezonville, and 
Sing William placed it under the orders of Von Steinmetz. 
As the minutes flew by, the head-quarter staff on the hill 
near Malmaison were impressed by a fact and an appearance 


— the increase of the yiyacity and Yolmne of fire towards 
the north — ^where the Guard had begnn its onset on St. 
Privat — and the symptoms of wavering* which seemed, 
and only seemed, to be visible on the French left. 
The King, therefore, sanctioned a fresh and formidable 
advance npon Frossard's brigades by all the troops which 
Von Steinmetz could spare for the enterprise. But the 
main object of Yon Moltke, we infer, was to prevent, by 
striking hard, the despatch of any assistance to Canrobert, 
and thus assist, by a resolute advance, upon one wing, the 
decisive movement then approaching its critical stage on 
the other. The 2nd Corps was, therefore, brought up 
to Gravelotte, and all the available troops of the 7th 
and 8th were held in readiness to assail, once more, the 
enemies beyond the Mance. 

But the French, who, though wearied, were still un- 
daunted, anticipating their foes, became the assailants. 
Their silent guns spoke out in thunder, the heights were 
shrouded in a canopy of smoke, and the bolts hurled from 
the batteries fell like hail on the woods, and sent such an 
iron shower as far forward as the hill-top where the King 
and his great men stood, that Yon Boon prevailed on the 
King to ride further back. The lively French skirmishers 
dashed forth into the open, strove hard to reach St. Hubert, 
drove the German foreposts headlong down the steeps into 
the Mance gully, filled the high road with a rushing, 
clamorous crowd of fugitives, and even caused terror and 
commotion in the rear of Gravelotte, so vehement and un- 
expected was the stroke. Fortunately for the Germans, 
the principal bodies of troops in St. Hubert and the woods 
were unshaken, and their rapid fire, as well as the responses 
sent from the artillery, checked the violent outfall. Then, 
as the sun was getting low, the fresh German brigades 
struck in. The men of the 7th Corps went down into 


and over the Mance valley, and stormed u^ the eastern 
bank. The 2nd Corps, eager to win, pressed along the 
highway, with their drums and trumpets sounding the 
charge, or moved on the south side. They passed onward 
in a tumult, and boldly tried to grapple with the strong 
lines of the defence. Not only their commander, Eransecky, 
and Steinmetz, but Yon Moltke himseK rode into the defile 
to witness and direct this huge and uproarious column of 
attack. But neither their numbers, and they were many, 
nor their valour, which was great, nor the unfaltering 
devotion of their officers could resist the smashing fire of 
cannon and mitrailleuse and chassepot which the French 
brought to bear upon them. Some daring spirits pressed 
close up towards the ditches and breastworks, a few clung 
to the banks and bushes on the brow of the slope near 
Point du Jour. A dense mass collected near St. Hubert, 
where Fransecky and Steinmetz, in the thick of the throng, 
saw the bands who had hurried to the front break off, turn 
and hasten rearward, while fresh troops still pressed upward 
through the confused crowds of fugitives. So for some 
time, in the twilight, the strange fight went on. As it 
grew darker, the outlines of Lebceuf s cleverly-designed 
shelter trenches near the Moscow farm were drawn in lines 
of musketry fire, and gradually nothing, save the flashes of 
guns and rifles, could be seen in the gloom. At length, 
when friend could not be distinguished from foe, when no 
breach could be made in the French line, which, except the 
outpost of St. Hubert, remained what it had been in the morn- 
ing, the Generals placed strong guards on their front, and 
stood prepared to renew the battle with the dawn. General 
Frossard, who had engaged all his reserves, was proud of his 
achievement, and not less of the foresight he displayed in 
providing artificial cover for his men. That had made the 
position, from the Great Quarries to the farm and copse of 


La Polie, impregnable, and renders it all the more difficult 
to comprehend how Marshal Bazaine could have shown 
such manifest distrust of the fastness which protected his 
left wing. The attack on St. Buffine by Von Golz was 
merely a diversion shrewdly designed to increase the 
Marshal's alarms, and its relative success shows how 
correctly Von Moltke estimated his adversary's abilities as 
a soldier. He reaped an ample reward, since long before 
the last shot was fired in the neighbourhood of St. Hubert, 
the French had been worsted at the other and distant 
extremity of the vast field of battle. 

The. Prussian Guard on the Centre and Left, 
It may be said, indeed, that not one, but several battles 
were fought on the 18th of August, in the long space 
between the Bois de Vaux and the Forest of Moyoeuvre. 
They were inter»dependent, because one mass of combatants 
held fast another, and the essence of the German plan was 
that three-fourths of the French Army should be nailed to 
the positions they had taken up, while the remainder were 
crusted by the pressure of superior forces. The original 
design of Von Moltke was framed on the supposition that 
the French right stood near Amanvillers, and that he 
would be able to fling upon an exposed flank two Corps 
d'Armee. Before the error was discovered, several hours 
had been consumed ; the Guard had been obliged to prolong 
the front fighting line; only a part of the Saxon Corps 
could be spared to engage in the turning movement, and 
the ground which they had to traverse grew longer and 
longer as the day waxed shorter. The extent of country 
over which the various armies operated, and the smoke 
which obscured the view, prevented a correct appreciation 
of the situation of affairs at a given moment, and the 
German commanders were liable to be deceived, and were 


deceived by appearances. The knowledge that so brief an 
interval of daylight remained, and an anxiety to make the 
most of precious moments, quickened the tendency to 
decisive action, and thus brought about the rash and 
premature attack which was so destructive, and nearly 
proved so fatal to the Prussian Guard. 

Their magnificent divisions of Infantry, it will be 
remembered, stood between St. Ail and St. Marie, except 
one brigade which had been annexed to the 9th Corps. 
It was intended that they should remain quiescent untU the 
Saxon column broke out upon the French right in the 
direction of Bouoourt, and for a brief interval of time, 
after five o'clock, the action in the centre as well as on 
the left was confined to a deliberate cannonade. Prince 
Augustus of Wurtemberg, who was then near St. Ail 
gazing alternatively on the ebb and flow of Manstein's 
battle in the Bois de la Cusse and towards the Bois de 
Genivaux, and on the aspect of the field about St. Privat, 
thought he saw French troops moving south from Bon- 
court. Combining this impression with the fact that, as 
we have already stated, a long line of Saxon guns had 
been arrayed due north of St. Marie, he rapidly formed 
the opinion that the turning column was on the point 
of striking the enemy, and that the moment had come 
when the Guard should be employed. He was also some- 
what affected by the condition of the combat in the centre, 
and, perhaps, as much by the waning day which left so 
narrow a margin of time for decisive activity. He ap- 
pealed to Prince Frederick Charles and easily converted 
the Commander-in-Chief of the Second Army to his 
views. So the order went forth that the Guard should 
attack, and having set Budritzki's division in motion 
from St. Ail, Prince Augustus rode to St. Marie. There 
General von Pape revealed to him his misconception — the 


During part of the period thus occupied General Pape, 
holding one brigade in reserve at St. Marie, attacked with 
the other on the north of the high road. Starting at a 
quarter to six o'clock, this body of Guardsmen crossed the 
road facing north, and then wheeling in succession to the 
right, went obstinately forward. The French fire, from the 
outset, was close and deadly ; officers of all ranks fell fast ; 
companies were reduced to straggling groups or scattered 
files ; the whole line was soon dispersed here and there ; 
but they still pressed on. One moiety trended to the right 
another to the left, and General yon Pape, watchful, 
active, and fortunate, for he was not hit, led fresh battalions 
to fill up the gaping intervals. Soon after the foremost 
bands had got within seven hundred yards of St. Privat, 
where, in places, at least, the slope afforded shelter, the 
reinforcements arrived ; and it may be said that thence- 
forth a continuous, yet thin line, curved inwards at the 
northern end, and fringed with smoke and fire, stretched 
irregularly over the vast glacis-like declivities from opposite 
Amanvillers to the outskirts of Eoncourt, where the Saxons 
prolonged the ragged and shapeless, but redoubtable array. 
Against this mere thread of riflemen, not even when they 
were weakest, the French directed no bold attack, perhaps 
because they had no reserves and stood in respectful awe 
of the hostile artillery which drew nearer and nearer as the 
evening wore on, until the black batteries formed a second 
line to the intrepid infantry. 

It was about seven o'clock. St. Privat was in flames, 
the black and tawny smoke of the burning village, boiling 
upwards, stood out against the obscured sky in strong con- 
trast to the swelling clouds of rrhite vapour, through which 
leaped incessant sparkles from hundreds of rifles, and the 
broader flashes of the cannon. At no preceding period of 
this dreadful day had the battle raged with such intensity^ 


for now along the whole front of eight miles there was a 
deafening roar and crash and tumult, and a murky atmo- 
sphere conceab'ng the ghastly sights which make these 
fields of carnage so appalling to the lively imagination, 
which seeks in vain to realize its multitude and variety of 
horror. Yet there was an element of grandeur a.nd 
sublimity in the exhibition of courage, constancy and for- 
titude upon such a stupendous scale. " It is a good thing 
that war is so terrible," said General Robert Lee, " other- 
wise we should become too fond of it." Here, among these 
woods and villages of Lorraine, war showed in abundance 
its attractive and repulsive forms. 

The CapttMre of 8t Privat, 
Marshal Oanrobert had discerned the approaching 
Saxons, who were now marching from the north upon Kon- 
court, Montois, and Malancourt. He felt that his right 
had been turned, and looked in vain for the expected succour. 
Bazaine, he says, had promised to send a division of the 
Guard. Bourbaki, astounded by the spectacle which met 
his eyes, when he emerged from the wooded defiles west of 
Saulny, had, as we have seen, allowed himself to be at- 
tracted, for a moment, towards De Ladmirault, had then 
retraced his steps, and had taken a position to cover the 
high road to Woippy, the so-called northern road from 
Metz which goes to Briey. He had with him, according to 
his own statement, three or four thousand Grenadiers and 
some artillery ; but he did not arrive in time to frustrate 
the Saxons and Prussian Guards. The Marshal, a little 
after seven, or even before, felt that he could not stand. 
He complains of failing ammunition, declares that the 
German artillery had obtained a complete mastery over 
his guns, and that his fiank was turned. ** At this moment. 



he says in bis own picturesque fashion, '* a valiant officer, 
who has since been killed before Paris, and who was 
called P^chot, arrived at St. Privat [from Boncourt] 
with the 9th battalion of Chasseurs, the 6th and 12th of 
the line. He dashed forward to stop the enemy ; but, 
as the enemy flung at us masses of uron, and did not 
come himself, as it was shells which came instead, we 
could not hold on. P^chot warned me, and we were 
obliged to retire. We did so by moving in echelon from 
the centre, and, in good oi*der, I emphasize the phrase, we 
gained the heights beside the wood of Saulny." The 
Oerman Staff acknowledge that the rearward movement 
was admirably done ; but the succinct narrative vouchsafed 
by the Marshal to the Court which tried Bazaine, gives only 
a vague glimpse of the closing scene. 

When the "valiant P^hot" retired from Boncourt 
before the Saxon inroad, he skilfully put his brigade into 
the. forest of Jaumont, on the right rear of the original 
line. Colonel Montluisant, the gallant artilleryman, having 
received a welcome supply of ammunition, sent up from St. 
Quentin by the order of Bazaine, posting his batteries in 
lines one above the other on the terraces near the wood of 
Saulny, opened a sustained fire to cover the retreat. 
Bourbaki, although Canrobert did not know it at the tiine. 
such was the confusion and so thick was the air, bad 
moved his batteries and Grenadiers near enough at dusk to 
bring both musketry and cannon-shot to bear upon the 
Germans. In St. Privat, glowing like a furnace, and as 
the darkness became deeper, shedding a wild light upon the 
scene, there were still stout and obstinate soldiers who 
either would not, or could not, follow the retiring brigades. 
Upon these devoted troops, as the sun went down behind 
the dark border of woods beyond the valley of the Qme, 
the mudi-tried Prussian Guards and the leg-weaiy Saxons 


threw themselves with all their remaining vigour ; and in 
rear of them, yet far down the slope, stepped one Division 
of the 10th Corps. The guns reinforced had again been 
dragged forward, some overwhelming St. Privat, others 
pounding Montluisant, or facing south-east, and smiting the 
French about Amanvillers. Then, with loud hurrahs, the* 
assailants broke into St. Privat, pursued the defenders 
amid the burning houses, captured two thousand prisoners, 
who were unable to escape from the buildings, and de» 
veloped their lines in the twilight on the plateau beyond. 
The capture of St. Privat enabled the Q-erman artillery to 
press on once more, each battery striving to gain the fore- 
most place. For Canrobert's retreat exposed the right 
flank of De Ladmirault's Corps, and, under a scathing fire, 
he was obliged to throw it back, protected by Bourbaki on 
the hill, and supported by a,, brigade promptly despatched 
towards that side by Leboeuf , who, all through the eddying 
fight, showed a fine tactical sense and great decision. How 
far the Germans were able to push their advantage it is- 
difficult to say, since General Gondrecourt, who was near, 
the place, maintains that some of De Ladmirault's soldiers 
remained through the night in Amanvillers ; whereas the 
Germans assert that they broke into part of the village. 
Be that as it may, Montigny la Grange, La Folie, and the 
posts thence to Point du Jour, for certain, were held by the 
French until the morning. Marshal Leboeuf has stated 
that he summoned his Generals in the evening, and said to 
them : " The two Corps on our right, crushed by superior 
forces, have been obliged to retire. We have behind us," 
he added, " one of the defiles through which they (* cette 
troupe ') may retreat. If we give back a step the Army is 
lost. The position, doubtless, is difficult, but we will 
remain." He declares that the attack continued until 
midnight, and that not one of his men budged a foot, which 


is true ; but Canrobert's men did fly in disorder to Woippy, 
and De Ladmirault confessed that there was " some dis- 
order '* in his Corps, and that what remained of them in 
the wood of Sauhiy stood to their arms all night. The 
General states his case in an extraordinary manner. 
** Night/' he says, " surprised us in this situation, having 
g^ned the battle, but not having been able to maintain our 
positions.'' What he meant to assert was that he, De Lad- 
mirault had won the battle, but that the defeat of Can- 
robert had obliged him to retire. The truth was that some 
troops remained in Montigny la Grange, but that the rest, 
or nearly all of them, where huddled together in the wood 
of Saulny, whence they retreated at dawn. 

During the night each Corps commander received from 
Marshal Bazaine an order to occupy certain positions under 
the guns of Metz. Canrobert, De Ladmirault, and the 
Guard, marched in the night, or very early in the morning, 
to the places assigned them ; Leboeuf began his movement 
at dawn, but Frossard kept outposts on his front line long 
after daylight. During the forenoon, however, the Army 
of the Bhine had gained the shelter of a fortified town, 
which they were not able to quit until they marched off to 
Germany as prisoners of war. 

The effective strength of the German Armies present on 
the field of Gravelotte was 203,402 men, and 726 guns ; it 
would not be easy to calculate how many were actually en- 
gaged in the fight, but the forces held in reserve were con- 
siderable. The number on the French side has been put as 
low as 120,000, and as high as 150,000 men, and probably 
about 530 guns. The loss of the Germans in killed and 
wounded was 20,159, and 493 missing. The French loss is 
set down at 7,853 killed and wounded, and 4,419 prisoners, 
many of whom were wounded men. The disproportion is 
tremendous, and shows once again that, armed with the 


breecHIoader, the defender is able to kill and injure nearly 
two to one. There were killed or mortally wounded in the 
German ranks no fewer than 5,237 officers and men, while 
the aggregate for the French is only 1,144. The loss of 
officers and men in the Prussian G-uards, nearly all inflicted 
in half an hour before St. Privat, reached the dreadful 
total of 2,440 killed or mortally injured, and of wounded 
5,611 1 



THE huge, stubborn, vehement and bloody conflict 
waged in the rural tract between the northern edges 
of the Bois de Yaux and the Forest of Jaumont, which the 
French Marshal called the " Defence of the Lines of Aman- 
villers," the French Army, " the Battle of St. Privat," and 
the GFermans the battle of '' Oravelotte-St. Privat," estab- 
lished the mastery of the latter over " the Army of the 
Bhine." Marshal Bazaine had not proved strong enough 
to extricate the Army he was suddenly appointed to com- 
mand from the false position in which it had been placed 
by the errors and hesitations of the Emperor and Marshal 
Lebceuf . He had not been able to retrieve the time wasted 
between the 7th and 13th of August, by imparting, after 
that period, energy and swiftness to the movements of his 
troops, or, if he possessed the ability, of which there is no 
sign, he did not put it forth. Certain words imputed to 
General Changarnier, correctly or otherwise, hit the blot 
exactly. " Bazaine," the General is represented as saying, 
** was incapable of commanding so large an Army. He 
was completely bewildered by its great numbers. He did 
not know how to move his men. He could not operate with 
the forces under his orders." So simple an explanation did 
not, of course, satisfy those who could only account for a 


stupendous calamity by accusing tlie Marshal of treason. 
But on the 19th of August, the Emperor was still on the 
throne, and whatever thoughts may have passed through 
the mind of Bazaine after Sedan, it is inconceivable that 
he wilfully sacrificed the Army before that event. He was 
misinformed, he could not grasp the situation, he formed 
.conjectures, without any solid basis, and acted on them; 
he was oppressed by the comparative want of provisions 
and munitions ; and, above all, he could not resist the mag^ 
netism exerted by a stroiighold like Metz, a magnetism 
which is likely to prove fatal to other weak captains wh6 
will have to handle armies, counted by hundreds of 
thousands, in the vicinity of extensive fortified camps. Th0 
consequences of the battles of Colombey, Vionville and 
XJravelotte are sufficiently accounted for by a recognition of 
the errors which, from the outset, placed the Army of the 
Bhine in a position whence it could have been extricated by 
a Napoleon or a Frederick, but not by a Bazaine ; and only 
quenchless wrath, born of defeat, or " preternatural susi 
picion," too rife in the Freiich Army, could seek an explana- 
tion in personal ambition or treason. The war was beguii 
without the preparation of adequate means ; the operationli 
projected were based on miscalculations, political and 
military ; the Generals were selected by f avom* ; and whed 
the collision of Armies took place, the French were out^ 
numbered, out- marched, out-fought, and out-generalled& 
Bazaine was no more a traitor than Prince Charles of Lor- 
raine in Prague, the King of Saxony in Pima, br even poot 
Mack in TJlm. He was a brave soldier, and an excellent 
corps commander, but he was very far from ranking among 
those captains, and, according to the first Napoleon, they 
are few, who have the faculty and knowledge required to 
command 300,000 men. Upon his subsequent conduct^ 
being beyond ita scope, this history has nothing to sayi 


moreorer, it would acquire a volume to illuminate that 
dreadful labTrintht the ** Proems Bazaine." All we require 
to note is that, as a result of a series of errors, the whole of 
which did not faU to the Marshal's share, one French Armj 
had been routed and driven headlong to Chalons, and 
another, the larger and better, had been worsted in combat 
and forced to seek shelter within the fortified area of Metz. 
The German leaders forthwith resolved, and acted on the 
resolve, to take the largest advantage of success. When the 
broadening daj showed that the French were encamped 
under the guns of the forts, and that they did not betray 
the fointest symptom of fighting for egress on any side, the 
place was deliberatelj invested. On the 18th, the cavalrj 
had cut the telegraph between Metz and Thionville, and 
partially injured the railway between Thionville and Lon- 
guyon ; and the French had hardly repaired the wire on the 
19th before it was again severed. Soon the blockade was 
so far completed that only adventurous scouts were able at 
rare intervals to work their way through the Oerman lines. 
As early as the forenoon of the 19th, the King had decided 
to form what came to be called the " Army of the Mouse " 
out of the Corps which were not needed to uphold the 
investment of Metz, and thus place himself in a condition 
to assail the French Army collecting at Chalons. The 
new organization was composed of the Guard, the 4th 
and the 12th Corps, and the 5th and 6th Divisions of 
Cavalry ; and this formidable force was put under the 
command of the Crown Prince of Saxony, who had shown 
himself to be an able soldier. Consequently, there remained 
behind to invest Bazaine, seven Corps d'Armee and a 
Division of Beserved under General von Kummer, which 
had marched up from Saarlouis, and was then actually 
before Metz on the right bank of the Moselle east of and 
belowihe town. The main strength, six Corp8» were posted 


on the left or western bank, and the supreme command 
•was intrusted to Prince Frederick Charles. Not a moment 
"was lost in distributing the troops so that they could support 
each other, and in sealing up the avenues of access to the 
place. A bridge over the Moselle, covered by a t^te de 
pont was constructed above and below Metz; defensive 
positions were selected and intrenched, and throughout the 
whole circuit, in suitable places, heavy solid works, as well 
as lighter obstructions, were begun. If the enemy tried to 
reach Thionville by the left bank he was to find an oi^anized 
defensive position in his path, and the troops beyond the 
Moselle were to assail his right flank. If he endeavoured 
to pass on the other shore, similar means would be applied 
to bar his way. Field works would arrest his attack, and 
his left flank in that case would be struck. Egress to the 
west was to be opposed by abbatis, trenches and other 
obstacles. Bemilly, then the terminus of the railway, and 
the site of a great magazine, was to be specially guarded ; 
but if any " eccentric" movement were attempted on the 
eastern area, the Generals were to evade an engagement 
with superior forces. It is not necessaiy to enter more 
minutely into the blockade of Metz, which henceforth be- 
comes subordinate to the main story. We have followed, 
so far, the fortunes or misfortunes of the Army now sur- 
rounded by vigilant, skilful and valiant foes; but the 
active interest of the campaign lies in other fields, and 
bears us along to an undreamed-of and astounding end. 

The King Marches Westwa/rd, 
One Army had been literally imprisoned, another re- 
mained at large, and behind it were the vast resources of 
France. Three Marshals were cooped up in the cage on the 
Moselle ^ one, MacMahon, and the Emperor were still in 


the field ; and upon the forces with them it was resolved 
to advance at once, because prudence required that they 
should be shattered before they could be completely or- 
ganized, and while the moral effect of the resoundiag blows 
struck in Alsace and Lorraine had lost none of its terrible 
power. Therefore the King and Q-eneral von Moltke 
started on the morrow of victory to march on Paris through 
the plains of Champagne. The newly-constituted Army 
of the Mouse, on the 20th, was in line between Commercy 
and Briey, moving towards Verdun on a broad front, with 
the cavalry so well forward that on the 22nd the Guard 
Uhlans were over the Meuse. At the same time the 
Crown Prince of Prussia, who had continued his march 
from the Meurthe and Upper Moselle, was astride the 
Meuse between Void and Gondrecourt, with infantry in 
front at Ligny and a cavalry patrol as far forward as Vitry. 
His columns had passed by roads south of Toul, from the 
Moselle valley on to the Omain, and as Toul refused to 
surrender when, a little later, it was bombarded by field 
guns, a small detachment was left to invest it until cap- 
tured French garrison guns could be hauled up from 
Marsal. On the 23rd the Meuse Army was up to the right 
bank of the river, and the whole of the Third had entered 
the basin of the Omain. Both Armies advanced the next 
day further westward and continued the movement on the 
25th — a critical day on which they attained positions it 
becomes necessary to note more minutely. The 12th 
Corps, having failed on the 24th to carry Verdun by a 
coup de main, halted at Dombasle on the 25th, with its 
cavalry at Clermont in Ai^onne and Sainte-Menehould. 
The Guard was on the Aisne at Triaucourt, the 4th near 
by at Laheycourt, the Second Bavarians on their left front 
at Possesse, the 5th Corps near Heiltz TEveque, the Wur- 
temberg Division at Sermaize on the Omain, the 11th 


Corps close to Vitry on the Marne, the 6th Corps at Vassy 
on the Blaise, and the First Bavarians at Bar le Due, 
whither the Xing had come on the 24th, by way of Coin- 
mercy, from Pont a Mousson. Thus the whole force was 
inarching direct on Chalons, left in front; that is, the 
Third Army, as a rule, was a march in advance of the 
Saxon Crown Prince. 

The Cavalry Operations. 
During the period occupied in reaching these towns and 
villages the cavalry had been actively employed scouting 
far in advance and on the flanks ; and what they did forms 
the most interesting and instructive portion of the story. 
As early as the 17th a troop of Hussars captured a French 
courrier at Commercy, and from his despatches learned that 
the Cavalry of Canrobert's Corps had been left behind at 
Chalons, that Paris was being placed in a state of defence, 
that all men between 25 and 35 had been called under 
arms, and that a 12th and 13th Corps were to be formed. 
Another patrol was able to ascertain that at least part of 
De Failly's troops had retreated by Charmes, and that other 
hostile bodies had gone by Yaudemont and Neuf chateau ; 
they were hurrying to the railway station at the latter place 
and at Chaumont. At Mdnil sur Saulx, on the 18th, the 
indefatigable horsemen seized many letters, and a telegram 
from M. Chevreau, Minister of the Interior, stating that 
the Emperor had reached Chalons on the 17th — he really 
arrived there on the evening of the 16th, having driven 
from Gravelotte in the morning — and that " considerable 
forces " were being collected in the famous camp on the 
dusty and windy plains of Champagne. Thus, day after 
day, the mounted parties preceded the infantry, spreading 
far and wide on all sides, so that as early as the 19th some 


Hussars actually rode within sight of French in:&intry 
retreating from St. Dizier, and on the 21st captured men 
belonging to the 6th Corps near Vitry. The next day the 
2nd Cavalry Division rode out from four-and-twenty to 
six-and-thirty miles, entering, among other places, Chau- 
mont, where, from the station books, they learned that De 
Failly's infantry had gone on, three days only before, in 
twenty trains, while Brahaut's Cavalry followed the road. 
On the 23rd the 4th Division of Cavalry had passed St. 
Dizier and ridden into the villages to the east of Chalons 
itself. Thence Dragoons were sent forward and these 
picked up information to the effect that the French Army 
had quitted the great camp. Beports to this effect had 
already reached head-quarters, and had moved Yon Moltke 
to tell General von Blumenthal, the Crown Prince's chief 
of the staff, that it would be most desirable to have prompt 
information showing whither the enemy had gone. The 
4th Cavalry Division, which, on the 24th, was at Chalons 
camp, now abandoned, burnt, and desolate, pushed a party 
towards Beims, and there found that the French Army 
had departed in an easterly direction. Before this vital 
information arrived at the great head-quarters the King 
and Yon Moltke had determined that the two Armies 
should, at least for the time, still move westward on the 
lines appointed ; and on the evening of the 25th, therefore, 
they occupied the positions already described. But at this 
moment the Army of MacMahon stood halted at Bhetel, 
Attigny, and Youziers, within two marches of the Meuse, 
between Stenay and Sedan ! 

In order to learn why they were there we must turn to 
the camp at Chalons, which had been the scene of dramatic 
events, fluctuating councils, and fatal decisions, the fitting 
forerunners of an unparalleled disaster. . 


The Emperor at CJudona and Reims. 
Immediately after the first defeats befell the French 
Armies on the frontier, Greneral Montauban, Comte de 
Palikao, summoned by the Empress, found himself 
abruptly made the head of a G-ovemment. He took, of 
course, the post of Minister of War. The Empress had 
been Begent from the day when the Emperor quitted 
Paris, and she exercised, or appeared to do so, a great 
influence on the course of events. The first act of the new 
Minister was to collect the materials out of which might 
be formed a fresh Army, a task in the execution of which 
he displayed considerable energy. The rapid march of the 
invader had intercepted, as we have related, one infantry 
division of Canrobert's Corps, all his cavalry "except a 
squadron," as he pathetically exclaimed, and more than 
half of his artillery. These remained in the camp of 
Chalons, and the Army formed was composed of these 
men, the 12th Corps, one division of which consisted of 
Marine Infantry ; then the Ist and 5th Corps, which had 
come at racing speed from Alsace ; and finally of the 7th 
from Belfort, which reached Chalons by way of Paris. 
There were in addition two regiments of Chasseurs 
d'Af rique, and subsequently a third — Margueritte's gallant 
brigade. Greneral Lebrun estimates that the aggregates, 
including non-combatants, amounted to about 130,000 
men. It will be duly noted that this Army came almost 
from the four winds, driven thither by the terrible pressure 
of defeat, and that many of the new troops were recruits, 
without discipline or training. They were collected 
together on an open plain, and had barely assembled 
before the viviCeious German cavalry were report^ to be 
and, though in small force, were close at hand. When the 
Emperor arrived on the night of the 16th, by far the 


greater part of the troops were still distant ; some speed- 
ing on their way from Chaumont and Joinville, others 
travelling from Belfort, and some from Cherbourg and 
Paris. They dropped into the camp in succession after the 
17th, and we may note that the 7th Corps never entered 
Chalons at all, but was sent on to Beims, which it reached 
on the 21st. Out of this assembly of soldiers Marshal 
MacMahon had to organize an Army. Moreover, the 
intendants, charged with the duty of supplying the troops, 
had only just come up. To increase the confusion many 
thousand Mobiles, who had been at an early date sent 
thither from Paris, behaved so badly — some reports of 
their ape-like tricks are almost incredible — that they were 
speedily returned to the capital, although the Emperor and 
Marshal Canrobert, who had commanded them, would 
have preferred, the former for political reasons, that they 
should be distributed in the northern garrison towns. 
Nothing more need be said of the Army of Chalons except 
that, although it contained some admirable troops, none 
finer than the Marines, whose only fault was that they 
could not march, yet that it was unfit to engage in any 
adventure whatever, especially one so perilous and toilsome 
as that into which it was soon plunged. 

Weary, perturbed, broken in health and spirits, yet 
outwardly serene. Napoleon III. slept on the night of the 
16th in the pavilion of the camp, which he had often 
visited when it was orderly and brilliant, which he now 
revisited as a fugitive, passing silently, almost furtively, 
through its disorder and gloom. With him was Prince 
Jerome Napoleon, who saw the fortimes of his house, like 
Balzac's peau de chagrin, shrinking visibly day by day, and 
whose fertile mind was alive with expedients to avert the 
fatal hour. He resented the bigotry of the Empress, who 
would not surrender Eome as a bribe to the Italian Court ; 


lie was pondering over and, indeed, opehlj suggesting the 
abdication of the Emperor. Sleeping also in that pavilion 
was the youth, Louis, who is barely mentioned in the 
French accounts after the 2nd of August; whose public 
life began in the tumult of a national catastrophe and 
ended so tragically among the savage Zulus. 

Daylight brought no respite to the Emperor. He saw 
around him silent and unsympathetic throngs of soldiers 
bearing the marks of defeat and rout, and it is said that he 
was even jeered by the Parisian Mobiles, who had pre- 
viously shouted in the ears of the astonished Oanrobert, 
«' A Paris ! A Paris ! " instead of " X BerHn I " 

Then came from the capital General Trochu, who had 
been appointed to command the newly-formed 12th Corps, 
and was destined, in case of accident, to succeed MacMahon. 
In conversing with the Emperor the General developed a 
plan of action, which astonished yet did not altogether 
displease his Majesty. Succinctly stated it was this : That 
the Emperor and the Army should return to Paris, and 
that General Trochu should be named Governor of the 
capital. The Emperor, as usual, listened, doubted, demurred, 
yet did not refuse to contemplate a scheme which promised 
to place him, once more, at the head of affairs, but he gave 
no decision. Marshal MacMahon was summoned ; he was 
to command the Army which, according to the plan, was to 
be organized near Paris; and when consulted he spoke 
favourably of Trochu as a man and a soldier, and readily 
accepted the command of the Army. Prince Napoleon, so 
soon to set out for Florence, if he did not suggest, supported 
the nomination of Trochu, on the ground that a revolution 
might break out at any moment in Paris, and that the 
General was the man to put it down. It was during the 
prolonged debate on these perplexing questions that some 
one said — " the Emperor neither commands the Army nor 


goyems tlie State ; *' whether the words dropped from the 
lips of Napoleon IIL or his cousin, Marshal MacMahon, 
who was present, could not remember ; but whoever uttered 
them thej were trua There was a subsidiary and much- 
disputed question — ^what shoidd be done with the noisy 
Mobiles, who so eagerly desired to re-enter Paris P In the 
end it was agreed that, although the Emperor, for political, 
and MacMahon, for military reasons, desired to give them 
a taste of much needed discipline in the northern fortresses, 
these obstreperous battalions should be sent to the capital. 
Thus it came about that Marshal MacMahon took command 
of the Army and that Trochu became Qovernor of Paris. 
The new Governor, with his letter of nomination in his 
pocket, set out on his return journey ; but while he went 
slowly by rail, M. Pietri, using the telegraph, informed the 
Empress of what had been done, and alarmed her and the 
Minister of War by reporting the intelligence that the 
Emperor and the Army were to move on the capital. 
Thereupon, two hours before the luckless Trochu set foot 
in Paris, Palikao had sent a remonstrance by telegram, 
dated 10.27 p.m on the I7th. " The Empress," he said, 
*' has communicated to me the letter in which the Emperor 
annoimces that he wishes to move the Army from Chalons 
to Paris — ^I implore the Emperor to give up this idea, 
which will look like a desertion of the Army of Metz." If 
fchere was a " letter " Napoleon must have written it on the 
16th, during his journey, which is not likely; but the 
document referred to was, no doubt, Pietri's tel^ram to 
the Empress. Some answer must have been sent from the 
pavilion at Chalons, after Trochu departed, for when he 
saw M. Chevreau, at midnight, the Minister said promptly 
— " The Emperor will not return" ; and when the General 
azhibited his proclamation to the Empress, beginning with 
''Preceded by the Emperor," she instantly exclaimed. 


''Yon cannot state tbat, becauBO it is not a fact; the 
lEmperor will not come." Thns the Trochn plan was 
frustrated ; yet the remarkable thing is that the Emperor 
liad not made np his shifting mind ; for on the 18th, 
as Marshal MacMahon aMrms, Napoleon intimated his 
intention to start the next day. Still we find a telegram 
from him to Falikao, dated the "18th, 9 h. 4 m.," pre- 
sumably in the morning, in which he says, " I give in to 
your opinion," so that his resolutions fluctuated from hour 
to hour. A most singular historical figure, at this juncture, 
is the once-potent Napoleon III. Virtually exiled from 
his capital, and not permitted, if he wished, to command 
liis troops, he was condemned to " assist," as the French 
say, at the capture of armies, the downfall of his dynasty, 
and the wreck of a nation. 

These lugubrious debates, held almost within sight of 
the battlefield of Valmy, went on from day to day. " What 
should be done with the Army ? " was the question which 
trod on the heels of "What shall be done with the 
Emperor ? " or rather both were discussed together. On 
the 18th came a despatch from Bazaine, stating that the 
Marshal had fought a battle two days before, that he had 
" held his positions," yet that he was obliged to fall back 
nearer to Metz in order that he might replenish his supplies 
for men and guns. This message had crossed one from 
MacMahon announcing his appointment, conveying the 
important information that he was stiU under the orders of 
Bazaine, and asking for instructions. The answer came 
the next evening, and it expressly declared that, being too 
remote from Chalons, Bazaine left the Marshal free to act 
as he thought fit. That telegram, it was the last which 
came direct by wire from Metz, raised the great military 
question. Falikao had already begun to insist that Meta 
should be relieved. The Marshal admits that he was 


undecided for the moment ; for if he started for the Meuse 
Paris would be uncovered, and the sole remaining French 
Army put in great peril; whereas, if he did not march 
eastward and Bazaine did march west, then the latter 
might be lost. In his anguish of mind, not knowing that 
the wire had been cut, he appealed, by telegram, to Bazaine 
for his opinion. At the same time, on the 20th, he for- 
warded a message to Palikao, which stated the case most 
dearly. His information, and it was in substance correct, 
led him to believe that the roads through Briey, Verdun, 
and St. Mihiel were intercepted by the Germans ; 4Uid he 
added that his intention was to halt until he learned 
whether Bazaine had moved by the north or the south — ^the 
idea that he might be shut up closely in Metz had not then 
matured in MacMahon's mind. In the meantime he saw 
plainly the dangers to which he was exposed by remaining 
on the plain of Chalons ; and, therefore, on the 21st moved 
the whole Army to Beims, a long march, which tried the 
inexperienced troops, and filled the oountxy roadfl with 
hundreds of stragglers. 

MacMahon Retires to Beims, 
That very morning M. Rouher, inspired by a desire 
to talk with his old master, arrived at Chalons, and pro- 
ceeded with the soldiers to their new destination. In the 
evening, at the Imperial quarters, MacMahon was sum- 
inoned to consider afresh the oft-debated questions of the 
hour. M. Bouher explained to the Marshal his views, 
which were, in reality, those of Palikao, for the President 
of the Senate was oppressed with the feeling that Bazaine 
must be relieved. But at this moment MacMahon was 
firmly resolved to march on Paris, and, possessing exact 
information, he stated his case, on the occasion, with great 


force and clearness. He was bound to assume, he said, 
that Bazaine was surrounded in Metz by 200,000 men; 
that in front of Metz, towards Verdun, stood the Saxon 
Crown Prince with 80,000 men ; that the Prussian Grown 
Prince was near Yitrj at the head of 150,000 men ; and 
consequently that if he risked a march eastward into the 
midst of these armies, " I should," he continued, '' find 
myself in a most difficult position, and experience a disaster 
which I desire to avoid." A most just estimate, formed 
on reports which were defective upon one point only — the 
Prussian Crown Prince was still about Ligny, but his 
cavalry, as wiU be remembered, had looked in upon Yitry. 
Moreover, the Marshal adhered to his opinion that the 
Army of Chalons should be preserved, because it would 
furnish the groundwork for an organized force 300,000 
strong. M. Bouher, who acquiesced, then suggested that 
the Emperor should issue a proclamation explaining 
the reasons why the Army of Chalons moved on Paris; 
which, being done, Bouher went his way, and MacMahon 
drew up the order of march towards the capital 

The Chalons Arm/y directed on the Meuse, 
The morning of the 22nd was spent in preparation, but, 
before the final orders were issued, the Emperor received 
the &tal despatch, dated Ban Saint Martin [Metz], August 
19, which Marshal Bazaine had been able to send through 
the German lines. After a brief description of the battle 
of Gravelotte, which ended, he said, in a change of front 
by the 6th and 4th Corps, the right thrown back, to ward 
off a turning movement, and reporting that he had drawn 
in the whole Army upon a curved line, from LongeviUe to 
Sansonnet, behind the forts, he stated that the troops were 
wearied by incessant combats, and needed rest for two or 


three days '* The KiDg of Prussia, with M. de Moltke," 
he went on " were this morning at Bezonville, and eyery- 
thing goes to show that the Prussian Army is about to 
feel up to (va tater) the fortress of Metz. I count always 
upon taking a northern direction, and turning, by Mont- 
medy, into the road from Sainte-Menehould to Chalons, if 
it is not too strongly occupied. In the contrary case, I 
shall continue upon Sedan, and even upon Mezieres, to 
reach Chalons." The Emperor sent this despatch to Mac- 
Mahon, who inferred from it that Bazaine was about to 
start, and that, after crossing the Mouse at Stenay, be 
should find him in the neighbourhood of Montm^dy. He, 
therefore, withheld the orders directing the Army on Paris, 
and issued those which turned its face to the East. 
Further, he transmitted a telegram addressed to Bazaine, 
stating that, in two days, his Army would be on the Aisne, 
whence, in order to bring succour, he would operate accord- 
ing to circumstances. Soon afterwards a despatch arrived 
from Palikao, saying that the ** gravest consequences " 
would follow in Paris were no attempt made to help 
Bazaine ; but the Marshal had already taken his decision, 
though with a dubious mind, because he knew better than 
the Comte de Palikao, who was extremely ill-informed, 
what dangers would beset his path, and how slight was the 
chance that the Army inclosed in Metz would be able to 
burst through the investing lines. The Emperor remained 
in a passive condition; he did not approve, he did not 
oppose ; but he shared, as a sort of interested spectator, in 
a venture determined by the operation of political motives, 
and devoid of a sound military basis. 

For the moment, at least. Marshal MacMahon remained 
steadfast to his latest resolution; and on the 23rvl the 
French Army moved out from its camp near Beims. It 
was not directed on the Verdun road, because the Com- 


mander-in-chief was well aware that if he was to gain 
Stenay, that goal could only be attained by evading the 
Saxon Prince's Army, which would necessitate a flank 
march on routes farther north. The first day's journey 
was short, for the Army halted on the river Suippe» facing 
north-east, with a cavalry division in front towards Grand 
Pre. At this early stage provisions were so scarce that 
Ducrot, commanding the 1st Corps, and Lebrun, who had 
the l2th, complained to the Marshal, who advised them to 
do as he did when retreating from Beichshof en — ^live upon 
the inhabitants. Tet the stress was severe, the country 
incapable of furnishing sufficient supplies, and MacMahon, 
yielding to the pressure, believed that the better course 
would be to follow the railway. He, therefore, moved 
next day to Bhetel wfth the 12th and 5th, while the Ist 
halted at JunivUle, and the 7th near Vouziers, Margue* 
ritte's flanking cavalry remaining hard by on the left bank 
of the Aisne. A short march on the 25th brought all the 
Corps astride the river, between Ehetel and Youziers, with 
cavalry outposts at Le Chesne and G-rand Pr^. The move- 
ment had begun badly ; but before following this Army 
farther on its devious path, we must return to the German 
head-quarters at Bar le Due, where, at length, it had be- 
come known that the French were not retreating on Paris, 
but were advancing towards the Meuse I 



T T ha« long been a weU-authenticated &ct that Mm- 
X Mahon's inarch eastwaid from Beims took the German 
head-quarter staff by surpnse. The reason was that they 
could not belieye in the probabilitjTof a moTement which, 
from their point of Tiew» had no defence on military 
gprounds. So that Marshal MacMahon with a fair, and 
General Yon Moltke with full knowledge of the facts, reaUj 
aniyed at identical conclusions when they surveyed the 
situation with what we may call cold scientific eyes. The 
influences which governed the Marshal's decision could not 
be known at Bar le Due on the 25th of August ; but it was 
none the less apparent to the cautious Yon Moltke that his 
adversary had committed a greaterror. The Qerman was 
surprised, he was even somewhat embarrassed, but he 
never lost his presence of mind, and he was not unpre- 

Indeed, the subject had been discussed already by him- 
self and his colleagues. As early as the 23rd, Prince 
Frederick Charles intercepted a letter from an officer of 
high rank belonging to the Metz Army. The writer ex- 
pressed a confident hope that succour would soon arrive 
from Chalons. Thereupon the Saxon Prince was directed 
to keep a sharp look-out towards Beims, and break the 


railway between Thionville and Longujon in more places 
than one. The next day, at Lignj, the Great Staff met 
and conferred with the Crown Prince. It was then that 
Quartermaster-General von Podbielski was the first to 
suggest that if a march from Beims towards Bazaine was 
barely admissible on military grounds, it might be ex- 
plained by political considerations, and consequently, the 
General thought, the German Armies should close to their 
right. The reason was not deemed sufficient, and the 
Armies went on as pre-arranged. Not until eleven in the 
evening of the 24th did the wary Yon Moltke consider that 
he had accumulated information sufficient to justify a ten- 
tative change of plans. He learned from his own cavalry 
patrols that Chalons had been deserted; from a Paris 
newspaper, captured on the 24th, that MacMahon was at 
Beims with 150,000 men ; and finally he got a telegram, 
dated Paris, the 23rd, and received at Bar le Due via 
London. " The Army of MacMahon," it said, ** is concen- 
trated at Beims. With it are the Emperor Napoleon and 
the Prince. MacMahon seeks to effect a junction with 
Bazaine.'' Still Yon Moltke doubted. The straight line 
to Metz was barred, would the enemy venture to face the 
risks involved in a circuitous march close to the Belgian 
frontier ? If he did the German Armies must plunge into 
the Argonne; but at present the General decided that 
enough would be done were the Army turned to the north- 
west, and were a keen watch kept upon its own right by 
sending the cavalry, if possible, as far as Youziers and 
Bnzancy. Such were the morning orders. Here it may 
be noted that Yon Moltke spent the afternoon in framing 
a plan, solely for himself, based on the shrewd assumption 
that MacMahon might have quitted Beims on the 23rd, 
and might be over the Aisne already. If he moved on 
continuously he could not be caught on the left bank of 


the Mease. Therefore Yon Moltke drew out tables of 

marches which, had they all been performed, as they easily 
might haye been, would have concentrated, in full time, 
150,000 men at Damvillers, east of the Meuse, and within 
easy reach of the Army blockading Metz. Two corps, 
from that force, were also called on to co-operate. They did 
move out as far as Etain and Briey, but not being wanted 
they soon returned to their cantonments on the Ome and 
the Yron. Thus the plan was not carried out, but it was 
prepared, indeed, served as a basis, during the next two 
days, and was ready for execution ; and it reveals, once 
more, the astonishing foresight and solid ingenuity which 
watched with sleepless eyes over the conduct of the German 

After he had finished the scheme by means of which he 
intended to thwart MacMahon, in any case, fresh intellig* 
enoe arrived — newspaper articles and speeches in the 
Chamber which declared that the French people would be 
covered with shame were the Army of the Bhine not re- 
lieved ; and above all a telegram from London, based on a 
paragraph in " Le Temps," of August 23rd, stating thatMac- 
Mahon, although by such a movement he would uncover 
the road to Paris, had suddenly determined to help 
Ba^aine, and that he had already quitted Beims, but that 
the news from Montm^dy did not mention the arrival of 
French troops, meaning troops from Metz, in that region. 
Yon Moltke was not deeply impressed by the articles and 
speeches, although he begun to give some weight to Pod- 
biebki's shrewd remark ; but the positive statement in the 
tel^pram did move him, and he and the Quartermaster- 
General hastened to lay the matter before the King. The 
result was that those definite (orders were issued which 
produced the great right wheel and sent the whole force 
towdxdfl tlie north. Nevertheless, the strategist still insists 


that, on the eyening of the 25th, he had no information 
which gave sure indications of the enemy's whereabouts. 

The Cavalry Discover the Enemy, 
These were soon forthcoming. The cavalry, set in 
motion at dawn, over a wide space and far in advance of 
the new direction, were not long in regaining touch of 
MacMahon's Army. For the horsemen rode out quickly, 
and speedily searched the country side from Dun on the 
Meuse to the heart of the camp at Chalons, accumulating 
in their excursions information almost sufficient to convince 
the circutnspect Von Moltke. This sudden display of 
activity and daring is a splended spectacle. The wind 
howled through the woods and swept the bare tracks, and 
heavy storms of rain deluged the country from Bar le Due 
to Rhetel, but the swift march of these superb reiters was 
neither stayed by the blast, the dripping woods, nor the 
saturated cross-roads. No hardships, no obstacles slackened 
their speed, and large were the fruits of their energy, en- 
durance, and astuteness. Here we may observe, and it is 
Bi remarkable fact, that hitherto the Saxon leader's cavalry 
had been directed only towards the west. The horsemen 
of the Third Army had ridden within sight of Eeims and 
on the south, or left flank, had approached closely to the 
Aube. Those attached to the Saxon Prince's command 
had felt out to their immediate front and towards the 
Prussian Crown Prince's left, but had not examined the 
districts to their right front. A cavalry regiment had 
made a tiring forced march towards Stenay, but not a 
trooper was directed on Grand Pr^, or on Varennes, until 
the 25th. Yet there were French horse on Q-rand Pr^ on 
the 24th, and it is evident that had only one division been 
despatched towards and through Varennes immediately 


after the Saxon Prince's troops had crossed the Meuse, 
above and below Verdun, the presence of MacMahon's 
Army on the Aisne must have been discovered, and the 
report handed in at head-qnarters on the morning, or at 
latest the afternoon, of the 25th. That would have been 
done had General von Schlotheim, the chief of the staff 
with the Meuse Army, been as careful to reconnoitre the 
country on his right as Yon Blumenthal was to send out 
horsemen to the flank as well as the front of the westward 
moving host. It was not done, and the error of judgment 
involved the loss of f our-and-twenty hours. 

The error was promptly and amply repaired. While 
each corps in the mighty Army, having wheeled to the 
right, was tramping north in the driving rain through the 
muddy forest roads to gain the distant bivouacs assigned 
them, the cavalry divisions had come up with, watched, 
touched, astonished, and bewildered the French, making 
the 26th of August a memorable day in their camps. 

Near the Meuse the ubiquitous patrols discovered troops 
at Buzancy ; upon the central road which rons beside the 
Aire, the foremost squadron saw infantry and cavalry in 
Grand Pr^ ; upon the Aisne, two adventurous parties press- 
ing up close to the flank and rear of Youziers, were able to 
observe and report the presence of large bodies of all arms 
encamped to the east of the town, and to specify the 
positions which they held. No attempt was made to 
attack, and there was no firing except a sputter of carbine- 
shots discharged by a French at a German patrol which 
had approached the left bank of the Aire near Grand Pr£ 
The whole line of horsemen, from the Meuse to the Aisne, 
was in constant communication, and their scouting parties, 
eager to see and not be seen, found their designs favoured 
by the abounding woods and the undulations of the land. 
Thus, in one day, a thick fringe of lynx-eyed cavalry was 


thrust in close proximity to the adversary many miles in 
front of the Grerman Corps, plodding their arduous way 
along the plashy tracks and by-ways of the Argonne. 

Movements of the French, 

No such bold and prudent use was made of the French 

cavalry by Marshal MacMahon, whom we left with his 

Army still lingering near the Aisne. The misgivings which 

oppressed him at Keims did not diminish during his halt 

at Eihetel ; and they deepened as he moved towards the 

Meuse. But no doubts, based on the absence of intelligence 

from or concerning Bazaine and the difSicuIty of supplying 

the Army, will account for the misuse which he made of 

his cavalry. The danger he had to dread lurked in the 

region to the south, yet after the 24th the duty of covering 

the exposed right flank and of gleaning exact information 

was imposed upon the brigade attached to the 7th Corps. 

For Margueritte's division of Chasseurs d'Afrique was, on 

the 25th, suddenly drawn from the right and sent forward 

to Le Chesne in front of the centre pointing towards Sedan 

or Stenay ; while Bonnemain's division of heavy cavalry 

moved slowly close in rear of the 1st Corps, where it was 

useless. The incidents of the memorable 26th, when even 

minutes were priceless, quickly demonstrated the gravity of 

the error. On that day, at the close of a brief march, the 

12th Corps stood at Tourteron, the 5th at Le Chesne, the 

Ist at Semuy, and the 7th a little east of Vouziers. Mar- 

gueritte moved on to Oches, and Bonnemain's was at 

Attigny, on the left bank of the Aisne. 

Now Douay, who commanded the 7th Corps, had become 
anxious, for he was on the outward flank. He sought some 
security by sending a brigade, under General Bordas, to 
Buzancy and Grand Pr^, and his strongest regiment of 


Hussars to scout along the two rivers which unite at Senuc. 
The Hussar patrols came in contact with the German, and 
it was one of them which emptied its carbines at the hostile 
and inquisitiye dragoons of the 5th Cavalrj Division. Be- 
tiring hastily on G-rand Pr^ the French Hussars handed 
in reports which so impressed General Bordas that he at 
once contemplated a retreat on Buzancy, and forwarded the 
alarming message to his Corps Commander. General Douaj 
instantly inferred that the dreaded German Army was not 
distant, and, ordering Bordas to retreat on Vouziers, he sent 
the baggage and provisions to the rear, and drew up his 
divisions in line of battle, at the junction of the roads from 
Grand Fr^ and Buzancy. Just before sunset a horseman 
rode up with a message that, after all, Bordas had not 
retired from the village which he occupied, though he 
believed the road to Youziers was intercepted, and that the 
enemy might be upon him at any moment. The remedy 
applied was to send forth General Dumont with a brigade 
to bring him in. While Dumont marched in the darkness 
Douay and his staff passed the night at a bivouac fire 
listening eagerly to every sound, and starting up when the 
step of a wayfarer or the cUnk of a horseshoe fell on their 
ears. About three in the morning of the 27th Dumont 
brought in Bordas and his brigade, together with a few 
Germans who, pressing too far forward at eventide, had 
been captured. Nor did the effect produced by the enter- 
prising German cavalry end here. General Douay had sent 
in to MacMahon a report of the exciting incidents ; and 
with the morning light came the information, that the 
Marshal had directed the whole Army to draw near and 
support the 7th Corps. So it fell out that the mere ap- 
pearance of the German cavalry had arrested the French. 
But at the same time their leaders were also told by fugitive 
country folk — ^nothing definite could be extracted from the 


prisoners taken at Grand Pr^ — that the Prussian Crown 
Prince was at Sainte-Menehould, and that another army — 
whence derived, in what strength, or by whom commanded 
they coidd not imagine — was advancing from Yarennes. 

The Ma/rshal Resolves, Hesitates, cmd Yields. 
We now touch on the moment when the decision was 
adopted which impelled the French Army on its final 
marches towards defeat and captivity; a decision mainly 
due to the extreme pressure exerted by the Comte de Palikao 
and the Begency. Marshal MacMahon had transferred his 
head-quarters to Le Chesne-Populeux, a village on the 
canal which connects the Aisne and the Mouse. The 12th 
Corps was there, with the 5th in its front at Brieulles sur 
Bar ; the 7th, as before, at Youziers, and the 1st in its rear 
at Yoncq ; Margneritte's horse at Beaumont, and Bonne- 
main's still about Attigny. The information placed before 
the Marshal by the inhabitants and his own officers seemed 
to justify those apprehensions which he had so strongly ex- 
pressed at Beims, and he began to feel again that he was 
marching towards that " disaster which he wished to avoid." 
In the midst of a prolonged survey of the position, he was 
summoned by the Emperor who, having received some 
authentic information, declared that the Prussian Crown 
Prince had turned from the road to Paris and was then 
advancing northwards. With Napoleon III. MacMahon 
remained for a long time, and came back to his head- 
quarters resolved to retreat upon M^zi^res. Indeed, he 
issued orders on the spot, directing all the Corps to retire 
behind the canal the next day, and take post at Chagny, 
Yendresse, and Poix. Then, at half-past eight in the 
evening of the 27th, he dictated to Colonel Stoffel a telegram 
designed for the Minister, in which he said that there was 


one hostile Armj on the right bank of the Meuse and 
another marching upon the Ardennes. ** I have no news 
of Bazaine/' he went on. ** If I advance to meet him I 
shall be attacked in front by a part of the First and Second 
German Armies, which, favoured by the woods, can conceal 
a force superior to mine, and at the same time attacked by 
the Prussian Crown Prince cutting off my line of retreat. 
I approach Mezieres to-morrow, whence I shall continue 
my retreat, guided by events, towards the west." Colonel 
Stoffel relates that, just as he was about to carry the tele- 
gram to Colonel d'Abzac, with orders to forward it at 
once, Qeneral Faure, chief of the staff, came in ; and Mac- 
Mahon, seizing the telegram, said, "Here is a despatch 
which I have written to the Minister." Faure read, and 
begged the Marshal not to send it, for, said he, ** You will 
get an answer from Paris, which, perhaps, will prevent you 
from carrying out your new plans. You can transmit it 
to-morrow, when we are already on the road to M^ziferea" 
The Marshal answered, " Send it," and it was sent 

The reply, so shrewdly foreseen by General Faure, was 
handed to the Marshal about half -past one on the morning 
of the 28th. It was dated, " Paris, August 27, 11 p.m.," 
addressed to '* the Emperor,*' and began with these tell-tale 
words, " If you abandon Bazaine," wrote the Comte de 
Palikao, ' la revolution est dans Paris,' or Paris will revolt, 
and you will be attacked yourseM by all the enemy's forces." 
He asserted that Paris could defend herself, that the Army 
must reach Bazaine ; that the Prussian Crown Prince, 
aware of the danger to which his Army and that which 
blockaded Metz, was exposed by MacMahon's turning 
movement, had changed front to the north. " You are at 
least six-and-thirty, perhaps eight-and-forty, hours in ad- 
vance of him," the Minister continued. " You have before 
you only a part of the forces blockading Metz, which, seeing 


you retire from Chalons to Beims, stretched out towards 
the Argonne. Your movement on Eeims deceived them, 
fiverybodj here feels the necessity of extricating Bazaine, 
and the anxiety with which your course is followed is ex- 
treme." The Marshal's will broke down under this strain. 
He could not bear the thought that men might in future 
X)oint to him as one who deserted a brother Marshal. 
Against his better judgment he revoked the orders already 
issued, enjoining a retreat upon M^zi^res, and put all his 
Corps in motion for the banks of the Mouse. To complete 
the narrative of this decisive event, it may here be said 
that, on the 28th, at Stonne, as the Marshal himself has 
admitted, the Emperor made a last desperate appeal against 
the change of plan. Another despatch from Palikao, dated 
half -past one in the morning of the 28th, this time addressed 
to the Marshal, had come to hand at Stonne. '' In the 
name of the Council of Ministers and the Privy Council," 
it said, " I request you [* je vous demande '] to succour 
Bazaine — ^profiting by the thirty hours' advance which you 
have over the Crovra Prince of Prussia. I direct Vinoy's 
Corps on Beims." 

It is probable that the purport, or a copy of this telegram, 
was sent to the Emperor, for he twice, through his own 
officers, reminded the Marshal that the despatches of a 
Minister were not orders, and that he was free to act as he 
thought expedient, and implored him to reflect maturely 
before he gave up his intention to retreat So much must 
be said for Napoleon III. — ^that, at Metz, on the morrow of 
Woerth and Spicheren, and at Stonne, when the toils were 
fast closing round him, his military judgment was prompt 
and correct. But the Marshal had decided ; and the prayers 
of an Emperor did not avail against the gloomy forecasts, 
the impassioned language, and the formal request or demand 
of a Minister of War whose telegrams exhibit the depth of 


his ignorance oonoeming the actual situation. It is not 
surprising that he was ill-inf ormed, seeing how difficult it 
was for officers on the spot, German as well as French, to 
obtain exact knowledge; but it is amazing that an ex- 
perienced soldier and Minister of War should not be aware 
of his own incompetence to direct^ from his closet in Paris, 
an army in the field. Palikao combined the qualities of 
the Dutch Deputy with those of the Aulic Councillor ; and 
the troops of Marshal MacMahon tramped on to meet their 
approaching ruin. The positions they attained on the 28th 
will be more conveniently specified later on ; for it is time 
to follow, once more, the footsteps of the hardy and iax^ 
marching Germans, who were now across the direct path of 
MacMahon's Army. 

Movemente of the Chrma/ns. 
How, by long and laborious marches, the toc^h foot 
soldiers, almost treading on the heels of their mounted 
comrades, gained ground on the adversary must now be 
succinctly narrated. On the 26th, the 12th Corps reached 
Varennes, and the Saxon Prince established his head- 
quarters at Clermont in Argonne. The Guard went on to 
Dombasle, and the 4th Corps to a point beyond Fleury. 
Such were the marches of the Army of the Mouse. In the 
Third Army, the Bavarians made a wet and weary night 
march in the wake of the 4th Corps, attaining Triauoourt 
and Erize la Petite ; but for the moment, the 5th, the 
6th, and the Wurtembergers stood fast. The reason for 
this apparent hesitation was that Yon Moltke was not yet 
quite convinced. King William remained at Bar le Due 
all the forenoon. Thither came the Crown Prince and 
General von Blumenthal from Ligny, and, at a council 
held in the great head- quarters, both of them declared xm^^ 


equivocally in favour of the northern march, urging that it 
would be wiser to delay the movement on Paris than run 
the risks of a battle in the north unless it could be fought 
by all the forces which could be got together. These 
opinions prevailed, and it was decided that the Bavarians 
should start at once, and that the next day the other Corps 
of the Third Army should proceed to Sainte-Menehould and 
Vavray. General von Blumenthal, indeed, had formed a 
strong judgment on the situation. A few hours after the 
consultation at head- quarters, writes Dr. William Eussell 
in his " Diary," " taking me into a room in which was a 
table covered with a large map on a scale of an inch to a 
mile, he (Blumenthal) said, * These French are lost, you 
see. We know they are there, and there, and there — and 
Mahon's whole Army. Where can they go to? Poor 
foolish fellows ! They must go to Belgium, or fight there 
and be lost ; ' and he put his finger on the map between 
M^zieres and Carignan." It is a remarkable fact that 
General Longstreet judging only from the telegrams which 
reached the United States about this time, arrived at the 
same conclusion. 

King William, during the afternoon, journeyed to Cler- 
mont ; while the Crown Prince drove to Eevigny les Vaches, 
which he made his head-quarters until the 28th. Before 
losing sight of Bar le Due, we may quote from Dr. Russeirs 
pages one other sentence, which afEords a brief glimpse of 
the great political leader in this war. In the forenoon on 
the 26th, the graphic Diarist '' saw Count Bismarck stand* 
ing in a doorway out of the rain whifling a prodigious 
cigar, seemingly intent on watching the bubbles which 
passed along the watercourse by the side of the street ; '* 
but probably with his thoughts far away from the evanes« 
cent symbols of men's lives. He had entered the town 
with the King on the 24th, and feared that the royal staff 


would linger there for several days, '' as in Capua ; " yet, 
in a few hours, this playful censor of delay was speeding 
North, like the Armies, to play a conspicuous part in a 
sublime tr^edy at Sedan. 

In his quarters at Clermont, G^eral von Moltke still 
disposed of the Meuse Army and the Bavarians in a man- 
ner which would enable him to effect, if necessary, that 
concentration at Damvillers which we saw him meditating 
and devising on the afternoon of the 25th, at Bar le Due. 
Thus, on the 27th, the Guard, which came up to Mon&ku- 
con, and the 4th Corps to Germouville, were each directed 
to throw bridges over the Meuse, so that there should be 
four points of passage in case of need. The Bavarians 
followed from the rear as far as Dombasle and Nix^ville, 
and the other Corps of the Third Army turned frankly 
northward, the 5th pushing its advance-guard to Sainte- 
Menehould. At the same time the Saxon Corps had 
crossed the Meuse at Dun and established a brigade firmly 
in Stenay. The cavalry had been as active and as useful 
as ever. They had covered the march of the Saxon Corps 
by occupying Grand Pr^, Nouart, and Buzancy, coming 
into contact with the French at the last-named village. 
G^eral de Failly, who, early in the morning, had moved 
to Bar, observed hostOe cavaliers beyond the stream, and 
sent Brahaut's brigade to drive them off and seize prisoners. 
That brought on a smart skirmish, during which De Failly 
received orders to retreat on Brieulles ; but Brahaut was 
driven from Buzancy by the fire of a horse battery ; and 
the unlucky French General made no prisoners. There 
was no other rencontre during the day, but the German 
cavalry on all sides rode up close to the enemy's posts and 
kept the leaders well informed. From the reports sent in. 
Von Moltke inferred that there had been a pause in the 
French movements ; at all events, that none of their troops 


had crossed the Meuse ; and, as he knew that the Saxons 
were in Dun and Stenaj, he thought himself, at length, 
justified in believing it possible that he might strike Mac- 
Mahon on the left bank. Consequently, he abandoned the 
Damvillers plan, and sent back to Metz the two Corps 
which had been detached from the blockading army. 
Therefore, while the Saxons stood fast, for one day, the 
Bavarians were directed to march, on the 28th, upon 
Varennes and Vienne le Chateau; the Guard upon Banth^- 
ville; and the 4th Corps on Montfaucon — ^the general 
direction for all the Corps being Vouziers, Buzancy, and 
Beaumont. During that day these orders were fulfilled, 
each Corps duly attaining its specified destination; the 
Guard and 4th Corps, before they started, taking up the 
bridges thrown over the Meuse. Four divisions of cavalry 
were out prying, through the mist, into every movement 
of the 5th and 7th French Corps, whose left flank, it was 
ascertained, was absolutely unguarded, so that the German 
horse looked on, and, in some cases, were misled by the 
astonishing confusion displayed by the enemy's vacillating 

Effects of MacMahon*8 Oov/nter-Ordera, 
The fatal decision adopted at Le Chesne on the night of 
the 27th brought disorder and disaster upon the French 
Army. The wise resolve to retreat on M^zi^res, strangely 
as the statement may sound, had rekindled the fading 
spirits of the French soldiers. As soon as the fact was 
communicated to them they sprung with alacrity to per- 
form the task of preparation. The ojQBicer who bore the 
order to the 7th Corps started from Le Chesne at six o'clock, 
and by nine at night the baggage, the provision transport, 
the engineers' park, were actually in motion for Chagny, 



fchrougH the long defile which leads to Le Chesne. The 
cavalry were despatched to watch the flanks, and the 
infantry in silence and darkness glided towards their first 
halting place, Quatre Champs. ** Every man," says Prince 
Bibesco, who was an eye-witness, " marched with a firm 
step. All seemed to have forgotten the cold, the rain, and 
the anxiety of the preceding days." They drank in hope 
with the refreshing air, and then their hopes were sud- 
denly extinguished ; for as they were near Quatre Champs, 
at half-past five in the morning, an aide-de-camp from 
MacMahon rode up to General Douay and told him the 
latest decision — ^the Army was to move upon the Mouse. 

The orders brought by the ill-omened messenger were 
that the 7th Corps, that very day, should move to Nouart, 
which it was not destined to reach; the 5th Beauclair, 
which it could not attain ; that the 12th should gain La 
Besace, and the 1st Le Chesne, both of which marches were 
duly performed. Bonnemains' heavy brigade of horse was 
sent to Les Grands Armoises, and Margueritte's towards 
Mouzon, but afterwards to Sommauthe. The 7th Corps, 
fearing greatly for its baggage train, already far away, set 
out again and only reached Boult-aux-Bois, the men on 
short rations, the horses without a feed of oats. The same 
troubles beset the other corps which had despatched their 
trains northward. But the largest share of ill-fortune be- 
fell De Failly. He was ordered to march by way of 
Buzancy upon Nouart and Beauclair — ^indeed, to get as 
far forward as he could on the road to Stenay. The 
Marshal knew it was occupied, for he told De Failly to 
expect a sharp resistance before he could carry it. But 
when within sight of Harricourt and Bar his adventures 
began. He discerned hostile cavalry in his path; they 
were vigilant Uhlans of the Guard. De Failly halted ; the 
cavalry increased, became enterprising, and some shots 


were exchanged ; but in the end the French General, find- 
ing that he could not rely upon the support of Douay, who 
was resting his wearied men at Boult-aux-Bois, and believ- 
ing that the direct road to Nouart was commanded by the 
enemy, he turned aside and, through narrow muddy lanes, 
made his way by Sommauthe to Belyal and Bois les 
Dames, the last division not arriying at the camp until 
eight in the evening. Nevertheless, his appearance at and 
Bouth of Bois les Dames so imposed on the German cavalry 
scouts that they retired from Nouart in the afternoon. 
The movements and halts of both French corps bad been 
observed, and when night fell the Germans at Bayonville 
saw the French bivouac fires beyond Buzancy and in the 
direction of Stenay. At this time there were no hostile 
GTerman infantry west of the Meuse nearer than Banthe- 
ville; for the troops on the fiank of the French, from 
. Vouziers to Dun, were wholly horsemen. No more valuable 
.demonstration of the priceless value of cavalry was ever 
made than that afforded by the Teutons during this 
campaign. They were more than the "eyes and ears of 
the Army ; " they were an impenetrable screen concealing 
from view the force and the movements of the adversary, 
who was stni engaged in pushing up his troops in the 
hope of compelling the French to fight a decisive battle on 
the 30th. That hope, entertained by Von Moltke on the 
28th, was not fulfilled, because, at the last moment, Mac- 
Mahon turned his Army from Stenay upon Mouzon. On 
that day the King moved on to Varennes, and the Prince, 
bis son, to Sainte-Menehould. 

Oerman and French Operations on the 29th, 
The position of affairs on the evening of the 28th was 
somewhat perplexing, because the earlier reports sent in to 


head-quarters indicated, what was the fact for a brief 
interval, that the French were retiring northward. Bnt 
no sooner had orders been issued to fit that state of things 
than certain information came to hand which showed that 
•the Meuse was again their immediate objective; and it 
was then that, bj abstaining from provocation, Yon Moltke 
judged it possible to move up troops sufficient to fight 
with advantage on the 30th, somewhere west of Stenaj. 
The Saxon Prince, acting within the discretionary limits 
allowed him, decided to cross the Meuse with the 12th 
Corps, and bring up the Guard and 4th to Buzancj and 
Nouart, but to evade a battle, and content himself with the 
fulfilling the task of obtaining intelligence. The orders 
were issued, and, while they were in execution, one body of 
cavalry tracked the 7th Corps during its painful march to 
Oches and St. Pierremont, and saw the divisions settling 
down in their bivouacs; and another made prize of Le 
Capitaine Marquis de Grouchy bearing despatches from 
MacMahon to De Failly. This was an important capture, 
for it not only deprived the unfortunate General of vital 
orders, but it placed in the hands of Yon Moltke the 
arrangements which the Marshal had drawn up to guide 
the motions of his Corps. Out of this mishap grew a fresh 
misfortune for the French. 

Marshal MacMahon, on the morning of the 28th, framed 
his plans on the supposition that he would be able to pass 
the Meuse at Stenay, and kept the heads of his columns 
pointing south-west ; but learning at a later period that 
the Saxons were posted at that place in force — his reports 
said 15,000 men — ^he was again, at midnight, obliged to 
change his scheme, and he resolved to pass the river at 
Mouzon and Eemilly. He, therefore, sent out orders 
directing the 12th Corps and Margueritte's cavalry to 
Mouzon, for, having no pontoon train, he was compelled to 


seek permanent bridges ; the 1st Corps and Bonnemains' 
horse to Bancourt; the 7th to La Besace, which, as we 
have seen, they did not reach, but halted at Oches and St. 
X^erremont ; and the 5th to Beaumont, which place they 
entered after weary marches and a sharp action. These 
were the orders for the day which, with other useful 
documents, were found in the pockets of De Grouchy. No 
special interest pertains to the march of the 1st Corps. 
The 12th found its way safely to Mouzon, crossed the river, 
and occupied the heights on the right bank, while Q^neral 
Margueritte despatched some of his Chasseurs on the 
Stenay road. What then happened ? The Chasseurs re- 
turned and reported that they had seen no enemy, although 
at that moment Stenay was held by the enemy's horse and 
foot. "They committed," writes General Lebrun, then 
commanding the 12th Corps, '* the fault which in former 
wars was made a ground of reproach against the French 
cavalry." When in sight of Stenay they saw no Q^rmans 
and turned back instead of pushing on to and beyond the 
town, or trying to do so ; and the corps commander justly 
regards this laxity as a grave fault. So Lebrun, resting at 
Mouzon, could learn nothing, either from spies or his 
famous Chasseurs, respecting an enemy then within a few 
miles. The irony of the situation was complete when, a 
little later, the Zieten Hussars from Stenay rode up to 
Margueritte's vedettes, and found him although he could 
not find them. In that &.shion the French made war in 
1870. General de Failly and his 5th Corps were more 
severely treated, for their ill-luck and misdirection brought 
upon them 

The Combat <xt Nouart, 
Acting on verbal instructions, given on the night of the 
28th, at Belval, by a staff officer from the head-quarters at 


Sionxie, De FaiDj set out the next morning towards Beaa- 
iort and Beauclair, two Tillages a few miles south-west of 
Stenaj. He did not know, as we do, that the Af«»-a^ft1 
had changed his plans, and that the officer bearing the 
countermanding order had fallen into the hands of a 
German patrol. The French Q^neral did not break up 
his camp and quit Belval until ten o^clock in the morning, 
which gaye the Saxons, who had been brought over the 
Mouse from Dun, plenty of time to watch his moyements. 
Indeed, he could see them, troops of all arms, on the 
heights of Nouart, moving, as he judged, in an easterly 
direction, which was an error, possibly arising from some 
torn in the road, for the whole 12th Corps were over 
the Meuse between Dun and Nouart. General de Failly 
disposed his troops in two columns, one of which marched 
towards Beaufort by country roads; the other, with the 
General, consisting of Guyot de Lespart's division and two 
regiments of Brahaut's cavaliy, made for Beauclair. 
Their road lay through the valley of the Wiseppe, a 
sluggish stream meandering through a marshy bottom 
land and passing Beaufort on its way to the Meuse. The 
route through Nouart was barred by the Germans, and 
when the leading French squadrons, crossing the valley to 
gain the main road, began to ascend the slopes, they 
suddenly came under a smart fire from infantry and guns. 
The French Hussars flitted fast back across the meadows, 
and De Failly at once stopped the march of both columns, 
putting his infantry and guns in position, and resting them 
principally upon two small villages. Then ensued, about 
noon, an indecisive but vexatious combat, for the Germans 
did not intend to attack in force, but simply harass and 
delay the 6th Corps ; and De Failly, uncertain respecting 
the numbers which might be hidden by the woods, dared 
not retort, especially as he was remote fr^m the French 


Army and without support from any other corps. So, for 
several hours, the fight went on. The object of the 
Saxons, who descended into the valley, was simply to 
detain the French, and, although the assailants trayersed 
the brook and the high road, pushing forward a few com- 
panies and supporting them by an artillery fire from the 
heights, they did not come to close quarters. General de 
Pailly was of opinion that he had repelled an attack, and 
that the enemy did not renew it because the French were 
so strongly posted ; but the truth is that Prince George of 
Saxony not only held back his superior force because he 
had been enjoined to abstain from a serious engagement, 
but was himself misled by erroneous reports respecting 
the state of a:ffairs towards Stenay. Soon after four 
o'clock De Faijly also drew off ; he had then just received 
a duplicate of the order directing him upon Beaumont. 
He sadly deplores the mischance, and pathetically relates 
how aU his wearied troops reached Beaumont '* during the 
night," except the rear-guard, which did not enter the 
camp until five o'clock on the morning of the 3(Hh. 

The State of Affairs at Sundown. 
Thus, for the French, terminated another day of error 
and loss, which left three Corps still on the left bank of 
the Mouse. When the sun went down, the German horse 
were close to every one of them except the 12th, which, it 
wiU be remembered, was on the right bank near Mouzon. 
The active cavalry moved in the rear of the 1st Corps, 
seizing prisoners at Yoncq, riding up to Le Chesne, and 
keeping watch through the night upon the wearied 7th 
Corps, as it sought repose in the camps of Oches and St. 
Pierremont. The German Infantry Corps, meantime, had 
been closing up for the final onslaught. The 12th Corps 


wa43 in and about Nouart, covered by outposts and patrols, 
which stretched away to Stenay. The Guard w^s at 
Buzancy, the 4th Corps at Bemonville ; the 5th Corps was 
at Grand Pr^, with the Wurtembergers near at hand ; the 
Bavarians had come up to Sommerance and its neigh- 
bourhood on both banks of the Aisne; the 11th Coi*p8 
stood at Monthois on the left, while the 6th Corps was 
in the rear at Yienne le Chateau. The head-quarters of 
Eong William were set up in Grand Pr^, under the old 
gloomy castle, the Prussian Prince was near by at the little 
village of Senuc, and the Saxon Prince at Bayonville. 
Thus, in three days, the whole Army had drawn together, 
facing north, and was ready, at a signal, to spring forward 
and grapple with the enemy who had committed himself 
so rashly to a flank march in the face of the most redoubt- 
able generals, and the best instructed, disciplined and 
rapidly-marching troops in Europe. 

Examining attentively the reports which reached him 
from all points of the extensive curve upon which the 
cavalry were so active, and poring over the map, General 
von Moltke at length formed a definite judgment on the 
position as it appeared to him through this medium. He 
inferred that the Army of Chalons was marching in a 
north-west direction towards the Mouse ; that its principal 
forces were then probably between Le Chesne and Beau- 
mont, with strong rear guards to the south; and the 
practical result of his cogitations was that the German 
Armies should move upon the line Le Chesne-Beaumont in 
such a way as might enable them to attack the enemy 
before he reached the Meuse. Therefore, the Saxon Prince's 
Army, except the Guard, which was to become the reserve, 
was to march early on Beaumont, two Corps of the Third 
Army were to support the Saxon onset, but the left of that 
Army was to march on Le Chesne. As a matter of fact. 


the French, in part at least, were nearer the Meuse than 
Von Moltke supposed, for the 12th Corps was on the right 
bank, and the 1st at Eaucourt ; while the 7th was at Oches, 
the 5th at Beaumont, and there were no troops at Le Ghesne 
except stragglers. MacMahon took in the situation; he 
was resolved to pass the river " coute que coute " : and his 
chance of doing so, even then, depended on the rapidity 
with which his troops could march. The 5th Corps was 
struck and routed the next day, but the French Army did 
succeed in effecting a passage over the stream. 

The Battle of Beaumont, 
The German Armies had now fairly entered the Ar- 
dennes, formerly the northern district of the old province 
of Champagne. It is a land of vast woods which crowd 
one upon another between the Bar and the Mouse. 
Xiooking from some smooth hill-top, the landscape, in 
summer, wears the aspect of a boundless forest, the dark 
furrowed lines of shadow alone indicating the hollows, 
gullies, ravines, and defiles. Here and there may be seen 
a church or chateau, or a glimpse may be caught of a road 
bordered by tall trees. The woods are so dense that 
infantry, still less guns and horsemen, cannot work through 
them, or move at all, except upon the high roads, lanes 
and tracks, worn by the villagers and farm people. Marshy 
brooks lurk under the green covert, and rivulets burrow 
their way through steep banks. Yet there are open spaces 
in the maze of verdure, farmsteads and fields, and rounded 
heights whence the tourist may contemplate the extensive 
panorama. It is not a country which lends itself easily to 
military operations, but one more suitable to the sports- 
man than the soldier. The boar of the Ardennes is still 
famous and it is on record that a certain Herr von 


Bismarck, onoe upon a time, hunted the wolf through the 
snow in the very region where he was hunting the French 
in August, 1870. 

It was amidst these thickets, dingles, and almost path- 
less wilds that the French had to retreat and the Ghermans 
to pursue. We have seen that General de Faillj's Corps 
was struggling all night to reach what they hoped would 
be a comparative haven of rest at Beaumont, a bourgade 
upon the high road from Le Chesne to Stenaj, planted 
down in a hollow, surrounded by gardens, and having in its 
centre a fine church visible from afar. Here he pitched 
his tents, so that his tired soldiers might recover from the 
fatigues they had endured in useless marches; and he 
thought, in his simple way, that he might safely defer his 
march until the afternoon. Tet Marshal MacMahon had 
visited the camp early in the morning, and if he used 
language to De FaiUy, as he probably did, similar to that 
which he employed at Oches, it should have quickened the 
General's movements and saved him from defeat. For, 
after visiting Beaumont, MacMahon, much concerned for 
the 7th as well as the 5th Corps, rode into the camp at 
Oches. The trains had entered the defile leading to Stonne, 
some hours earlier, preceded and escorted by the brigades of 
Conseil Dumesnil's Division, and the 2nd Division was 
just about to start, leaving the 3rd as a rear-guard. " You 
will have 60,000 men upon your hands, this evening," he 
said, ** if you do not succeed in getting beyond the Mouse." 
Urging Douay to get rid of his heavy convoy, and " coute 
que coute," cross the river, he indicated Villers below 
Mouzon as the point of passage, and rode away. The mis- 
fortunes of the 7th Corps, also much tried, will be related 
later ; but it may be said that they did not reach Mouzon, 
for their outlet from the toils proved to be the southern 
gate of Sedan 1 


The Surprise of the 6th Corps. 
Inspired by the hope of closing with the enemy, the 
German Armies were astir at dawn, and soon loDg columns 
of men and gans were tramping steadily northward ; but, 
for the present the narrative is concerned only with the 
Saxon 12th, the Prussian 4th, and Yon der Tann's 
Bavarians. These troops advanced through the forests, 
the Saxons near the Mouse, the 4th in the centre by 
Nouart and Belval, and the Bavarians, from their distant 
bivouac at Sommerance, upon and beyond Sommauthe. 
Now it was originally designed that the two Corps, on the 
right and centre, should attack simultaneously, and to 
insure this, each column, on arriving at the skirts of the 
forest, was directed to halt under cover until it had ascer- 
tained that the others on each flank had also gained the 
edge of the woods. But it turned out that the Saxons, 
from the start, were delayed by various obstacles which 
impeded not only the artillery, but the infantry. The 
leading division of the 4th Corps met with fewer ob- 
structions on its route through Belval, and thus arrived 
first on the scene of action. On the line of march in the 
forest, intelligence was picked up which quickened its 
motions, and a squadron sent forward confirmed the state- 
ment that the French about Beaumont reposed in thought- 
less security. The Corps Commander, Von Alvensleben I., 
— ^for there were two who bore the name in this Army, — 
an officer ever ready to go forward, was present with the 
advance-guard of the division, and not likely to hold it 
back. So the soldiers advanced in silence. On approach- 
ing the open country, the Hussars in the front glided out 
of sight, and a company of Jagers crept towards the selvage 
of the wood, and, from a hillock near a farm, they saw, 
only six hundred paces distant, a French camp, and beyond 


other camps. The cavalry horses were picketed, the 
artillery teams had not returned from seeking water, the 
soldiers were either resting or employed on the routine 
work of a camp. What should be done ? Here was an 
absolutely unguarded Army Corps, ignorant that an enemy 
was within short musket range. The divisional commander 
had orders to await the arrival of lateral columns, but he 
felt that the Frenchmen might discover his unwelcome 
presence at any moment. He had only a brigade on the 
ground, yet the temptation to seize an opportunity so un- 
expected, was almost irresistible. He, therefore, decided 
to attack as soon as his brigade could deploy, and his bat- 
teries plant themselves in a favourable place. Suddenly 
the men in the French camp were all in motion. G-eneral 
von Alvensleben inferred that the proximity of his troops 
had been perceived, whereas the activity displayed, as we 
learn from De Failly, was caused by an order to fall in 
before starting for Mouzon. Without waiting, however, 
until the battalions in rear could reach the ground, Alven- 
sleben opened fire, and the shells bursting in their camp, 
gave the first warning to the French that their redoubtable 
adversaries were upon them. General de Failly says that 
the grand-guards had not had time to signal the enemy's 
presence, and that his own information led him to believe 
that the Germans had marched upon Stenay. The ver- 
dict of Marshal MacMahon upon his subordinate is that 
" General de Failly was surprised in his bivouac by the 
troops of the Saxon Crown Prince." 

The French soon recovered from their disorder, swarms 
of skirmishers rushed out towards the assailants, some 
batteries went rapidly into action ; and the combined fire 
of shells and buUets wrought havoc among the Prussian 
gunners and the infantry, hitting even those on the line of 
march. They did not yield to the pressure ; and when the 


Pi-encli delivered a determined attack it was repelled by 
volleys and independent firing. Then the French got 
several batteries into position on the hill side north of 
Beaumont ; the Germans were reinforced by the arrival of 
guns and foot, for the other division of the Corps came up 
and at once deployed on the right of its comrades. At 
this time, a little after one o'clock, the Saxons on the right, 
next the Meuse, and the Bavarians on the left, who had 
been marching since five o'clock in the morning, had also 
begun to take part in the fight. King William and his 
vast Staff, posted on a hill off the road from Buzancy, and 
his son, on a similar elevation near Oehes, were closely 
watching the battle, discernible thence in its general smoky 
features, at least by the King. 

General de Eailly had no desire to fight a regular en- 
gagement. His aim was to put his troops in order and 
offer as much resistance as might be required to cover his 
retreat upon Mouzon, distant only six miles. He, there- 
fore, relied on his line of guns above the village, and they 
were effective, for some time ; but he showed great appre- 
hension lest his left, or Meuse flank, should be turned. 
Seeing the German lines develop and grow stronger, in 
men and guns, feeling the new power brought to bear by 
the Saxons, who, cramped for want of room, were pressed 
close to the river, and, hearing the Bavarian guns on his 
right, he made one more vigorous effort to arrest the 
4th Corps. Thick lines of skirmishers, followed by sup- 
ports in close order, dashed forward with such valour 
and impetuosity that they drove in the covering infantry 
and charged to within fifty paces of the guns. The danger 
was great, but the Germans rapidly flung everything near 
into the contest, gained the mastery, compelled the gallant 
Frenchmen to wheel about, followed them promptly, cap- 
tured the soui^em camp^ and then poured into Beaumont 


itself upon all sides. But the chassepot had told, and the 
Germans paid heavily, as they always did and were ready 
to do, for their persistent courage and well-tempered 
audacity. With the town fell the other camps ; and then» 
for a time, the infantry combat ceased. But the artillery 
advanced, as usual, and engaged in a long duel with the 
powerful line of batteries established by the French to 
facilitate the retreat of their in&ntry and arrest pursuit. 
Although not able to stand up against 150 guns, they did 
not retire until their infantry had got into another position 
between the Yoncq brook and the Mouse. Then the bat- 
teries cleverly withdrew in succession, and before the 4th 
Corps could advance, De Failly's troops disappeared in the 
woods, and were seen no more until they were reached 
beyond the hills and thrust headlong into Mouzon. 

While the 4th Corps was pulling itself together after the 
onset, De Failly had been compelled by the impenetrable 
wood of G-ivodeau to divide his forces, the left and the 
reserve artillery following the main route to Mouzon took 
post above YiUemontrey, dose to the Mouse, and derived 
support from guns and infantry which Lebrun had put 
into position on the high land in an elbow of the river on 
the right bank. The right wing hurried round the western 
side of the Givodeau thickets, and found a post upon 
a plateau beyond. In the meantime. General Lebrun had 
ordered two brigades of infantry, commanded by Cambriels 
and YUleneuve, and a cavalry division, to cross the river at 
Mouzon, but Marshal MacMahon, riding up, ordered back 
Cambriels, and all the horse except two regiments of cuiras- 
siers. Those we shall presently meet again. The German 
right wing vainly endeavoured to drive De Failly from 
YiUemontrey, and, after repeated attempts and much loss, 
desisted from the enterprise ; but kept a strong force at 
hand and a large number of guns in action* 


Meantime a singular incident bad occurred to the west 
of Beaumont. Just as the Bavarians were about to join 
in the attack on the camps by throwing themselves on the 
French flank, thej were fired on from a farm called La 
Thibaudine and a hamlet named Wamiforet. They were 
astonished because the presence of an enemy there was not 
even suspected. The enemy was also astonished and still 
more frightened. The combat was caused by a French 
brigade, which had wandered from its line of march. It 
seems that the advance brigade of Conseil Dumesnil's 
division preceding the transport of the 7th Corps, a series 
of wagons, nine miles in length, had been ordered by 
MacMahon, who met them, to move by Yoncq instead of 
La Besace, and that, when the rear brigade came up to the 
point of divergence, the marker left to give information 
having disappeared, these unfortunate troops went forward 
on the great road to Beaumont. A staff officer arrived 
just as the action began, and he was leading the errant 
troops back, when the Bavarians emerged in view. The 
conflict which ensued was sharp, but it delayed the 7th 
Corps and ended in the rout of the French, who fled as 
best they could through Toncq towards Mouzon. About 
this time Douay was at Stonne ; the Uhlans of the Guard 
had followed him step by step, and bringing a horse 
battery to bear on his rear guard, had induced General 
Dumont to halt, deploy the brigade, and in his turn open 
fire; but General Douay promptly appeared and stopped 
the action, having made up his mind that the pressing 
duty of the hour was to get over the Mouse in accordance 
with the Marshal's desire. So the 7th, after some hesita- 
tion, retired upon Baucourt, hoping thence to gain Villers 
below Mouzon; yet, being pursued by the Bavarians, 
they were overtaken and attacked outside Baucourt, 
and, hearing that the bridge was broken, they turned. 


some upon BemiQj, and others through Torcj into Sedan 

The Flight to Mouzan, 
When the left wing of the 4th Corps, pressing to- 
wards the defile of the Yoncq and the slopes above it, 
sought to discover the French on that side, they were at 
first sharply punished; but, following on, they came up 
and closed with their adversaries. One brigade of Bavarians 
had been sent to the 4th Corps and moved on the left 
flank of the toilsome advance. For the ground was difficult, 
the obstacles numerous, and the French, though shattered 
and dispirited, still displayed a fighting front. But at 
length, late in the afternoon, the Germans mastered a hill- 
top whence adverse artillery had fired upon the assailants; 
and then these fairly entered the plain before Mouzon. 
Here, however, the French occupied an isolated hill, called 
Le Mont de Brune, close to and almost overhanging the 
Faubourg of Mouzon, from which its summit is less than 
a mile distant. Unluckily for them they formed front 
facing eastward, apparently anticipating an attack on that 
side ; but the Germans promptly turned the flank from the 
south and south-west, and drove the defenders down the 
steep slopes towards Mouzon, capturing ten guns. The 
victorious forward movement brought the leading com- 
panies in front of Yilleneuve's brigade and the Cuirassiers 
in the plain. The Germans halted, and opened a steady 
fire, when suddenly they beheld the 5th Cuirassiers coming 
down on their left flank and rear. Captain Helmuth, who 
commanded the three companies exposed to this ordeal, 
made the left company face about in time, and then for- 
bidding his men to form rallying squares or groups, 
ordered them to stand fast as they were, and only open fire 
when he gave the signal. The gallant French horsemen, as 


Tvas their wont, rode straight upon the infantry ; but the 
independent firing opened on them at point blank range, 
broke the impetus and crushed in the head of the charg- 
ing squadrons. Colonel Contenson fell mortally wounded 
inrithin fifteen paces of the infantry line; and, although 
some fiery spirits dashed into their ranks, and one engaged 
in single combat with Captain Helmuth until he fell 
pierced by ball and bayonet, yet the whole mass of 
cavaby was routed with immense loss, and driyen into the 

For, by this time, the wreck of De Failly's Corps was in 
fuU retreat on all sides, and troops, artillery, transport 
trains, and stragglers, were crowding on towards the bridge. 
When his right was turned by the movement upon the 
Brune hill, and still further by the march of the Bavarian 
brigade upon Pourron, De Failly quitted his post at Yille* 
montrey, which enabled the right division of the 4th 
Corps, the Saxon regiments fighting by its side, and the 
artillery to push on by the main road to Mouzon. After 
the first surprise of the Beaumont camp, the French had 
mainly stood, here and there, to facilitate their retreat, 
and the contest, which went on all the afternoon among the 
woods and hills and ravines, was really a running fight. 
The Germans had pursued with relentless pertinacity. 
Their soldiers had been marching all day, but they seemed 
to be tireless, for they never halted until the fugitives were 
over the Meuse, or the darkness forbade further motion. 
De Failly had been surprised and thrust in disorder over 
the river, and when the evening closed the Germans were 
in possession of the faubourg of Mouzon, and of the bridge 
at its western end. The 7th Corps, cut off from ViUers, 
had moved, in a state bordering on panic, upon Kemilly ; 
but there they found Bonnemains' cuirassiers, the tail of a 
division belonging to the 1st Corps, and a baggage column. 


The Meuse had been dammed to fill the ditches of Sedan, 
and not only were the fords rendered useless, but the 
swelling stream was unusually high. Douay, halted at 
seven o'clock, became impatient after dark, and at ten 
rode down to the bridge. He found the cuirassiers engaged 
in passing oyer the feeble construction. '' The horses," 
writes Prince Bibesco, " affrighted, because they could not 
see the shaking planks hidden by the water, and shifting 
under their steps, moved with hesitation, their necks ex- 
tended, their ears erect. Sitting upright, shrouded in their 
large white cloaks, the cuirassiers marched on silently, and 
appeared to be borne on the stream. Two fires, one at each 
end of the bridge, flung a ghastly light on men and horses, 
and, flickering on the helmets, imparted a fantastic aspect 
to this wierd spectacle." At length the white horsemen 
passed over ; but when the turn of the artillery caine the 
horses were still more recalcitrant, and the passage was so 
slow that, at two in the morning of the 31st, only three 
batteries and two regiments of foot had passed the Meuse. 
Douay then learned that the Marshal had ordered all the 
Army to assemble at Sedan, and he moved the rest of his 
Corps over the bridge at Torcy. These few details will 
give some idea of the terrible disorder which prevailed 
throughout the French Army. 

On the evening of the 30th the Germans were upon 
the Meuse. The 4th Corps was before Mouzon; one 
Bavarian Corps at Baucourt, the other at Sommauthe ; the 
5th and 11th Corps about La Besace and Stonne; the 
12th was near the Meuse in front of Beaumont, and the 
Q-uard just behind them; the Wurtembergers were at 
Verri^res, and the 6th Corps well out to the west at 
Youziers. On this flank also were the 5th and 6th Cavahy 
Divisions threatening and watching the French com- 
xnunications ; while the 12th Cavalry Division was astride 


tKe Meuse at Pouillj, and one of its squadrons, evading 
and passing through Margueritte*s vedettes, had discovered 
and reported the presence o^ French troops on the Chiers 
near Carignan, and the movement of trains on the railway 
towards Sedan. 

So ended this ominous day. The Army of the Meuse 
had lost 3,500 men in killed and wounded, but they had 
routed one French Corps, and fractions of two others, 
and they had captured forty-two guns. The French loss 
is set down at 1,800 killed and wounded, but the Germans 
aver that, included among the 3,000 acknowledged to be 
missing, there were 2,000 who bore no wounds. 



AT the very moment when the Army of Ohalons, in- 
stead of marching on its way to Montm^y, found 
its Corps huddled together at Sedan, between the river and 
the Belgian frontier, some information of the moTement 
undertaken by MacMahon, who yielded his better judgment 
to the importunate entreaties (les instances) of Palikao, 
reached Marshal Bazaine in Metz. He had already, on 
the 26th of August, collected a large mass of troops upon 
the r^ht bank, in order to break out towards ThionviUe ; 
but the rain poured down all day in torrents, and, after a 
consultation at the Farm of Grimont with his Marshals 
and Generals, whose opinions were adverse to the sortie 
projected, he issued an order directing the Army to resume 
its former quarters. But, on the 29th, a messenger who 
had crept through the German lines, handed to the Marshal 
a despatch from the officer commanding in Thionville, 
Colonel Tumier, stating that General Ducrot, with the Ist 
Corps, should be " to-day, the 27th," at Stenay on the left 
of the Army, General Douay on his right being on the 
Mouse. Bazaine seems to have had doubts respecting 
the authenticity of this missive, the handwriting of which 
his staff did not recognize ; but the next morning, about 
eleven, an agent of his own came in from Verdun. He was 
the bearer of a telegram from the Emperor — it was reallj 


the message drawn up by MacMabon on the 22nd of 
August, copied, apparently, in cipher, by Napoleon, and 
intrusted to Bazaine's emissary. The despatch, which had 
so date, stated that the sender would march towards 
Montmedy, and when on the Aisne, would act according 
to circumstances, in order to succour the Metz Army. 
I^egarding the second document, though antecedent in 
point of time, as a confirmation of the first which he had 
received. Marshal Bazaine, on the 30th, issued the orders 
which, the following day, led to 

The Battle of Naisseville, 
His plan, succinctly described, was to break through the 
line of investment on the right bank of the Moselle by 
directing three Corps, the 3rd, 4th, and 6th, principally 
upon St. Barbe, and he hoped, if successful, to march them 
forward upon Kedange, while the G-uard and the 2nd 
Corps followed the track by the river. He estimates the 
force which was available for battle at 100,000 men, but he 
probably had more ; at any rate, the delays which had oc- 
curred on the 14th of August, and were in part repeated on 
the 31st, shows how arduous is the task of issuing with 
such masses from a fortified town and position astride of a 
river. The weather was not favourable, for the continuous 
rain had soaked the ground, and at dawn a thick fog, which 
hung about for several hours, impeded the operations. The 
G-ermahs had been more than usually on the alert since 
the abortive attempt on the 26th, and had thought it 
expedient to include Noisseville within the line of defence. 
The noise and preparations in Metz did not escape their 
notice, but the dense mist concealed much from their 
searching gaze. Yet they saw and heard enough, both on 
the eastern and western &onts of Metz, to warrant a belief 


that a resolute onset was impending. As the fog bank 
rolled away, the batteries and the massing of troops became 
visible, and General von Manteuffel transmitted the results 
of his careful observations to Yon Steinmetz and Prince 
Frederick Charles, both of whom made instant arrange- 
ments to support the 1st Corps and the other troops on 
the right bank. The forenoon passed by, and, except some 
slight skirmishes and a brief artillery dud, no action ensued. 
About midday the French sat down to cook, and the smoke 
from their fires rose in clouds, indicated their position, but 
hid them from view ; at the same time, although the sun 
was shining, the culinary haze' concealed the workmen en- 
gaged in throwing up shelter for the heavy guns drawn from 
the forts ; and the Gkrman leaders arrived at the conclu- 
sion that the onslaught would be deferred until the next 
day ; their soldiers also fell to cooking, and some fractions 
recroseed the Moselle to join their main body ; but their 
attention to the phenomena before them was not relaxed. 

Tet the afternoon began to wear away. It was not until 
half -past two that Marshal Bazaine gave that signal for 
attack which was nevertheless not obeyed until another 
hour and a half had been consumed. The signal was a 
salvo from the battery of heavy guns placed behind the field 
works hastily thrown up in front of Fort St. Julien. The 
battlefield of the 31st was one with which we were made 
acquainted when Yon Golz took upon himself to arrest the 
retreat of the French over the Moselle on the 14th of August. 
It extended from Mercy les Metz by Colombey, NoisseviUe, 
and Failly to Malroy on the Moselle. The French assailants, 
therefore, had to cross the ravines east of Bomy and work 
up both banks of the Yallieres brook which, rising near 
St. Barbe, enters the Moselle opposite the Isle Chambiere. 
The 6th Corps, Canrobert's, was to attack by the river road 
towards Malroy ; De Ladmirault, with the 4th, was to move 


by Failly and Yr6mj to outflaDk St. Barbe on its right, 
while the left of that position was to be carried by Leboeufs 
3rd Corps ; and Frossard, with the 2nd, was to follow and 
cover the right flank of Lebceuf . The Guard, the cavalry, 
and reserve artillery were to stand between Fort St. Julien 
and the Bois de Grimont, and all the baggage was to be 
ready in the Isle Chambi^re. The Germans were prepared 
to meet such an attack, but, as we have said, they had come 
to believe that it would be deferred. 

Suddenly, about four o'clock, the dead silence was broken 
by a salvo from the heavy guns, followed by the fire of De 
Ladmirault's batteries. H^en the action began along the 
whole front, the Germans at once developing a powerful 
line of fifty guns about Servigny and Poix, far in advance 
of the main line o£ defence, and bringing other pieces to 
bear from different points. Nevertheless, favoured by the 
broken ground and resolute to win, the French infantry 
persistently advanced untU about six o'clock they had driven 
in all the foreposts, and had^ gained possession on their 
right of Noisseville, the garrison of which village they 
curiously complain held out longer than they were entitled 
to do. The capture of Noisseville facilitated the principal 
attacks which were directed upon Servigny and Poix, 
villages which served as redoubts guarding the avenues to 
St. Barbe, the culminating point in the region. At the 
same time the French right had pushed well forward to- 
wards Eetonfay, the object being to protect the flank of 
the 3rd Corps, now in motion upon the central posts of the 
German line. Here the contest was severe, and in the end 
the great line of guns which had held De Ladmirault at bay 
so long, unable to bear the musketry fire in front and flank, 
was compelled to withdraw behind the villages. But, 
although the French infantry came up boldly on both flanks, 
as well as in front, they were, unable to overcome the sturdy 


defenders, in whose possession the villages remained at 
dark. The French left under Ganrobert had made repeated 
attacks upon Faillj, which met with no success, and he 
halted at Chieulles and Yanj : so that the movement near 
the Mouse had secured but little ground. At dark the 
French had not done more than occupy a line extending 
from Canrobert*s right in front of Yillers TOrme to Noisse- 
ville, and thence by Flanville to Oh&teau d'Aubignj. £j 
this time General von Manteuffel had been reinforced bj 
two brigades of Landwehr, and the 25th Division, under 
Prince Louis of Hesse, which had crossed the Moselle, 
and considerably strengthened his right wing. Then 
occurred a remarkable incident. General Avmaxd, about 
nine o'clock, creepmg silently up to Servigny, flung forward 
his division, and, without firing a shot, burst in upon 
the surprised Germans, engaged in preparmg the de- 
fences, and carried the place. Astonished and enraged. 
General von Gayl immediately gathered up a force, and 
breaking, in his turn, upon the enemy, drove him out and 
recovered possession before ten o'clock. Aymard's is an 
example of a night attack well performed ; but the weak 
defence of what had been skilfully won, was not so credit- 
able to the French. 

During the night General Manstein, with the other half 
of the 9th Corps, crossed the Moselle, halted in rear of 
the German right wing, and thus enabled the Hessian 
Division to take post behind St. Barbe. A dense fog again 
filled the valley at dawn, but at an early hour General von 
Manteuffel, holding his ground in the centre and on the 
right, brought his batteries to bear upon Noisseville and 
promptly assumed the offensive. The place was strongly 
occupied and stoutly defended. Although the Germans 
broke in for a moment they were speedily expelled, and 
several hours elapsed before the village fell into th^ 


hands. But tkroughout the day, except towards Eupignj 
and Failly, the French stood on the defensive. For the 
G-ermans arrayed 114 guns on the hills, crushed the adverse 
artillery, and prevented the French infantry from making 
any combined attack. The position on their right was soon 
rendered less safe by the arrival of a brigade of the 7th 
Corps which, coming up from Laquenexy, drove the French 
out of Flanville. This demonstration on the right of 
Marshal Leboeuf's line, together with the terrible fire of 
the German artillery, induced him, about eleven o'clock, to 
draw ba<3k the whole of his troops and allow his adversary 
once more to occupy Noisseville. On the French left. 
Marshal Canrobert's soldiers had been forced back upon 
Ohieulles, and the attacks upon Failly had wholly failed. 
Prince Frederick Charles who, at Malancourt, had heard 
the opening cannonade at Sedan on the morning of the 
1st, took up his post of observation on a hill towards the 
Moselle before eight o'clock, and provided for the arrival of 
strong reinforcements, should they be needed, from the 
left bank, but only the 10th Corps passed the Moselle and 
was stationed between Argancy and Antilly. The retreat 
of Marshal Leboeuf had been followed by that of the other 
corps, and a little after noon the French Army was march- 
ing back to the camps and bivouacs whence it had advanced 
on the 31st. The great sortie had signally failed in opening 
a road through the investing lines. The French had 3,647 
officers and men killed and wounded, including in the latter 
category four Grenerals, one of whom, Maneque, mortally. 
The German loss was 2,976 killed and wounded. Marshal 
Bazaine estimates the number he put in the field at 100,000 ; 
the German authorities say they began the fight with 
40,800 men and 1 38 guns ; and at the end of the encounter 
had over the Moselle 73,800 men and 290 guns. 

Marshal Bazaine and his troops re-entered their prison 


on the afternoon of the daj when the white flag was hoisted 
on the Citadel of Sedan ; and with his and their subsequent 
misfortunes we have nothing more to do in this work. 
I^either is it our business to consider whether by marching 
up instead of down the right bank he could have escaped 
with some portion of his Army safe and sound to the South, 
of France. That he did his uttermost to push through on 
the 31st is the contention of the German staff, but it is 
doubtful whether on the second day the same spirit pre- 
vailed. All the knotty questions suggested by the military 
situation about Metz and elsewhere at the end of August 
could only be adequately discussed by entering upon a 
history of transactions with which we have no present con- 
cem. The essential fact is that the French Marshals tried 
to break the barrier and failed at a moment when even their 
success could not have prevented the capitulation at Sedan. 
The attempt demonstrated the immense advantages of a 
carefully prepared defensive position combined with a 
readiness to use artillery in the front line from the first, and 
an equal readiness to become the assailant whenever a 
useful opportunity occurred. But to the mind of this 
writer the moral of the Metz episode in the great war is the 
danger attending these large intrenched camps, which will 
certainly exert in the future, as they have in the past, an 
irresistible attraction upon inferior commanders, and will 
task the intellect, and the ingenuity and the firmness of 
the greatest to put them to a proper use. Neither Bazaine 
nor any colleague in superior command could be described 
as a man of genius, and to such soldiers, while war is 
conducted on a vast scale and armies in the field are 
numbered by the hundred thousand, places like Metz will 
not cease to become traps in which frustrated or beaten 
armies will be caught and captured, sometimes, it may be, 
by force or stratagem ; usually by stress of famine. Mean- 


time the issue of the war will be decided, as it always has 
been, hy the l>ell^erent who is able to keep the field. 

Although huge Armies had penetrated so swiftly into 
France on the morrow of the frontier victories, there were 
still, besides the fortress of Metz, which was in an exceptional 
case, sereral other strongholds which stood out defiant 
upon the main lines of the German communications. They 
were Yerdun, Toul, Bitsche, Phalsburg, Strasbui^, and, at 
a later stage, BeKort. Each of these, except the last- 
named, required to be, and were, watched or invested by 
troops drawn from the active Armies or the reserves in 
Germany ; but they had little or no influence upon the 
colossal events which decided the issue of what we have 
called the Campaign of Sedan. Strasburg alone was a 
cause of any anxiety, because the Germans were eager to 
obtain possession of a fortress the fall of which would give 
them undisputed command of the Ehine, and become of 
great value in the event of unlooked-for and improbable 
reverses. General von Werder, with the Baden Division, 
after the battle of Woerth, had been sent to invest the 
town, and he arrived before it on the 11th. It is not 
intended to relate in these pages the siege of Strasburg, 
which properly belongs to the story of the Franco-German 
war as a whole. The point to note is that the regular 
siege was preceded by a useless bombardment. The 
engineer desired to proceed in the orthodox way ; the chief 
of the staff wished to try the more violent method. He 
insisted that a bombardment would terrify the inhabitants, 
and make them exert such a pressure on the Governor, 
General Uhrich, a gallant veteran, as would compel him to 
surrender. The dispute was determined by an appeal to 
the Great Head-quarters, then at Pont k Mousson, and 
General von Moltke, who desired that the place should bo 
taken in the shortest possible time, and that the 40,000 


men before it might be ayailable for other operations, 
decided in favour of the bombardment. The consequence 
was that dreadful sufferings were inflicted upon the 
inhabitants of Strasburg, and terrible devastation brought 
upon the town, but that the cruelty did not attain the end 
in view ; and that the wise engineer was permitted to apply 
his method at a moment when, had his advice been adopted, 
the besieging Army would have been near the success which 
was ultimately attained. The bombardment of Strasburg 
was not only an error regarded from a military point of 
view, it was a great political blimder ; for who can doubt 
that the agonies endured in the last days of August, 1870, 
and the resentment created by the awful destruction of life 
and property, have materially helped to render inveterate 
that hostiUty to German rule which even now reigns in 
Strasburg as strong as ever. Strasburg would have been 
captured, probably at an earlier date, had there been no 
bombardment, humanity would have been spared a heart- 
rending spectacle, and Germany would have profited by 
showing some deference towards the feelings and some 
regard for the Uves of the people whose town it was 
intended to restore to the Eeich, and over whom she had 
determined to rule. It was only on the 26th, when the 
King had just turned northward from the Omain to hunt 
after MacMahon, that Von Werder, finding Uhrich resolute, 
decided to proceed by way of a regular siege. After the 
end of the month the fortress ceased to be, in any sense, a 
danger to the German Armies, which, whether closed around 
Metz or marching westward through France, could afford 
to await, with calmness, the certain surrender of Strasburg, 
an end which might have been attained just as quickly had 
the wisdom of King William's statesmen been called in to 
sustain the sound judgment of General Schulz, the accom- 
plished Engineer. 



Oerman Decision. 

WHILE Strasburg was enduring the agonies of a 
siege and bombardment, and tbe " Army of the 
Rhine," already oppressed by " la question des vivres," was 
chafing in its restricted camps under the cannon of Metz ; 
while Paris was quivering with excitement and barely 
restrained from bursting into open revolt, the victorious 
German host was closing steadily, yet swiftly, round the 
distracted and misguided Army of Chalons. It was pressed 
in so closely on the Belgian frontier that, during the after- 
noon of the 30th, before De Failly had been driven over 
the Mouse, Count Bismarck sent a formal communication 
to the German Minister at Brussels, in which he expressed 
a hope that, should MacMahon lead his soldiers across the 
boundary, the Belgian authorities would immediately de- 
prive them of their arms. At night, in his quarters at 
Buzancy, King William sanctioned a decisive order to his 
son and the Saxon Prince. The troops were to march at 
dawn, attack the enemy wherever he could be found on the 
left and right bank of the Mouse, in order that he might 
be crushed up as much as possible between the river and 
the Belgian border. The Saxon Prince was to operate 
beyond the Meuse, with two Corps ; the Prussian Prince 



on the front and left ; movements designed to bar the road 
to Montmedj, prevent any attempt to recross the river, and, 
eventually, to interpose the German left wing between the 
French and Mezieres. " Should the adversary enter Belgium 
and not be immediately disarmed, he is to be followed at 
once without waiting for fresh orders." These were not the 
final instructions which led to the investment of an Army, 
but they prepared the way towards, and foreshadowed the 
accomplishment of that astonishing result. 

Confusion in the French Gwnvp. 
Marshal MacMahon, perplexed, but not dismayed, by 
the events of the 30th, remained for some time in doubt. 
" I do not know what I shall do," said the Marshal early 
in the evening to Ducrot's aide-de-camp. " In any case, 
the Emperor should at once start for Sedan." At that 
time the Emperor was in the camp of Ducrot, who, instructed 
to protect the retreat of the Army either by Douzy or by 
Carignan, that is, towards Sedan or Montm^dy, had divided 
his Corps between those two places. At a later period, 
when darkness had set in, MacMahon, seated at a bivouac 
fire, on the heights above Mouzon, sent for General Lebrun, 
and directed him to retreat, at once, upon Sedan, not by 
the highway, which was crowded with fugitives and wagons, 
but by cross roads leading upon Douzy. ** We have had a 
bad time," said the Marshal, ''but the situation is not 
hopeless. At the most, the German Army before us cannot 
exceed in numbers sixty or seventy thousand men. If they 
attack us, so much the better ; we shall be able, doubtless, 
to fling them into the Meuse." The Marshal, who never 
spared himself, and seemed to live without sleep, rode back 
to Sedan, and Lebrun, stumbling along devious tracks, in 
the darkness, and apparently in dubious military array, 


fearing all the time that he might be attacked, entered 
Douzy at eight in the morning, and did not reach Bazeilles, 
his destination, imtil ten o'clock. 

Meantime Ducrot, embarrassed by the presence of the 
Emperor, awaited anxiously, at Carignan, the final orders 
of MacMahon. He respectfully urged His Majesty to 
depart by train for Sedan, but the Emperor refused — " he 
wished to be with the Corps which covered the retreat." 
He was astonished and incredulous when the rout before 
Mouzon was described. " It is impossible," he repeatedly 
exclaimed, ** our positions were magnificent ! " In the night 
he yanished from Carignan ; and it was only some hours 
after he had gone that Ducrot was informed of his 
departure by train. The General then, in concert with 
Margueritte, whose cavalry were on the Chiers, resolved to 
retreat in the morning, without waiting longer for orders, 
and to move upon Bly, because he assumed that MacMahon 
would certainly direct the Army on M^zi^res. He was 
mistaken. On reaching Villers-Cemay, about four in the 
afternoon of the 31st, Ducrot learned that he was to retire 
upon Sedan, and not upon Mezi^res, '' whither I have not 
any intention of going," said the Marshal's despatch. In 
fact, the two Divisions of the 1st Corps, left at Douzy on 
the 30th, had been already ordered to retire on the 
(Jivonne, Lebrun, whom we saw follow in their wake, 
after his painful night march, did not destroy the bridge 
over the Chiers ; so that, when he was passing Francheval, 
Ducrot actually saw the enemy — they were Saxon horsemen 
— issuing from the village, and cutting in upon the baggage 
and transport trains. 

On that memorable 30th, when the Emperor informed 
the Empress by telegram, from Carignan, that there had 
been an '' engagement of no great importance," an officer 
destined to be conspicuous, dropped in upon the Army ; it 


ivas De Wimpffen. He has been defined bj General 
Lebrun, who was with him at St. Cjr, as a man of firm 
will, and ** an unlimited confidence in his own capadtj.'* 
Indeed, he had come to restore victory. When he passed 
through Paris, the Comte de Palikao was good enough to 
tell him — so he writes, although Palikao " thinks " he 
could not have so expressed himself — ^that MacMahon 
chimed in too easily with the su^estions of the Emperor, 
which was not the fAct ; that His Majesty was in a false 
position, and that he caused the greatest embarrassment. 
'* Send me to the Army," said De Wimpffen, ** I shaJl 
impart the needed boldness and decision." So he was sent 
to supersede De Failly in command of the 5th Corps, 
carrying in his pocket a letter which authorized him to 
succeed MacMahon in command of the Army, should any 
accident befall the Marshal It was this audacious per- 
sonage who supervened on the 30th, and to his horror, 
found the Army he might have to guide and govem, filing 
to pieces under his eyes. He met troops in flight from 
Mouzon ; they were frightened, famished, and could hardly 
be persuaded that the ''Prussians" were not at their heels. 
As evidence of the reigning disorder, De Wimpffen says 
that he collected on the 30th, three regiments belonging to 
the 5th, 7th, and 12th Corps, some squadrons of De Failly's 
cavalry, and several hundreds of men belonging to the 1st 
Corps, who obeyed a non-combatant officer. The General 
led them during the night to Sedan. A like confusion 
prevailed on all sides, as the soldiers, hungry and thoroughly 
wearied, fell asleep as they dropped on the ground in their 
dreary bivouacs, 
^he Emperor entered Sedan about midnight.^ The 
Marshal urged him to embark afresh in the train, aSa seek 
security in M^ziferes, where General Vinoy was expected, 
and where he did, indeed, arrive that night with t&e advance 

CHAP. Xm.] SEDAN. 289 

guard of one division of the 13tli Corps. The Emperor 
refused to quit Sedan, but the Prince Imperial had been 
sent away. The movement of Vinoj was delayed several 
hours, because a train running to Avesnes, and bearing the 
young Prince, "his baggage, his escort, and his suite," 
barred the way to M^zieres. 

When morning dawned upon the discomfited Army,/ 
Marshal MacMahon had not ceased to ponder. As he saidl 
before the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry in 1872, j 
he had no intention of fighting a battle at Sedan, but he / 
wished to supply the Army afresh with provisions and \ 
munitions ; and he spent part of the day in considering 
what he should do on the morrow, and in watching from 
the citadel the march of his foes. There were, he believed, / 
a million rations in Sedan, but eight hundred thousand of 
these were stored in wagons at the station, and as shells 
reached them from beyond the Mouse, the station-master 
sent away the train to M^zi^res. With it went a company 
of engineers, instructed to blow up the bridge at Donchery ; 
but frightened by the shells, the driver halted long enough 
to drop the engineers, and then hastily fled with the powder 
and tools. The Marshal did not hear of the mishap until 
ten o'clock at night, and when another company of engineers 
reached the bridge, they found it in possession of the enemy! 
Early in the morning, before that event occurred. Captain 
des Sesmaisons, carrying a message from Vinoy, entered^ 
Sedan, after having been fired on by a German battery 
established near Prenois. He saw the Emperor in the 
hotel of the Sub-Prefect, delivered his message, and received 
a despatch from His Majesty directing Vinoy to concentrate 
his troops in Mdzi^res. Anxious that the Captain should 
return in safety, the Emperor gave him a horse, and traced 
on a map the road he should take, observing that the Army 
would retire by that route the next day; that the road 


would be open and safe, as it was new, had not been 
marked on the map, and was unknown to the enemj. 
But we learn from the German Staff history, that this 
recently opened road, although not laid down on the 
French, was duly figured in the German map, a contrast 
between diligence and negligence not easily paralleled. 
The Captain saw MacMahon, who then, nearly midday, 
seemed resolved to march on M^ziires, and beUeyed that 
he could crush any opposition. 

At this moment General Douay arriyed, and gave a new 
turn to his thoughts. Douay had surveyed the position in 
front of his camp with an anxioxui eye, and had noted that, 
unless reinforced, he could not hold the cardinal point — 
the Calvaire d'llly. He got additional troops in the end. 
"But," said the Marshal, who seemed to share Douay's 
apprehensions, " I do not want to shut myself up in lines ; 
I wish to be free to manoeuvre.'* " M. le Mar^chal, to- 
morrow the enemy will not leave you the time," was the 
General's answer. According to Captain des Sesmaisons, 
H was Douay's comments on the position which made the 
Marshal modify his judgment, and think of fighting where 
he stood rather than of retreating on M^zieres. The Cap- 
tain rode back to his General, and carried with him a 
gloomy account of the condition and outlook of the Army 
of Chalons. No troops were sent forth to watch the Meuse 
below Sedan and communicate with Vinoy. Later in the 
day, an old soldier who lived in the neighbourhood, sought 
out General Douay and told him that the enemy was pre- 
paring to pass the Meuse at Donchery — a fact, it might be 
thought, which could not escape the notice of the watchers 
in Sedan — and then it was that the General occupied the 
position between Floing and Illy, and began to throw up 
intrenchments as cover for men and guns. He had not 
done so hitherto, because his soldiers, thoroughly exhausted 

CHAP. Xm.] SEDAN. 291 

by incessant marches, sleepless nights, want of food, and 
rear-guard combats, needed some rest. Enough has been 
said to indicate the lamentable weakness of mind at head- 
quarters, and the dire confusion prevailing throughout the 
limited area between the Belgian frontier and the Mouse, 
within which the French soldiers were now potentially in- 
closed. It is time to show a difEerent example of the 
practice of war. 

The Movements of the Oermans, 
The decision adopted by the Great Head-quarters at 
Buzancy were, as usual, anticipated, and the Commander- 
in-Chief of the Mouse Army, before the formal orders 
reached him,fhad directed the Guard and the 12th Corps 
to cross the river, by the bridge at Pouilly, constructed 
on the 30th, and a new one made at L^tanne soon after 
daybreak on the 31 st.^ The Saxon cavalry commander, 
indeed, taking with him a squadron at dawn, rode down 
the right bank, then shrouded in fog, as far as Mouzon, 
entered the town with four lancers, and crossed the bridge 
to the faubourg. Thereupon a Prussian battalion instantly 
passed over and took possession of the town. This adven- 
turous squadron had actually captured prisoners and many 
wagons loaded with provisions. When the two divisions 
of cavalry, preceding the infantry advance, rode towards 
Douzy and Carignan, they struck the tail of Lebrun's 
Corps, and fired into the distant columns which Ducrot, 
on the other side of the Chiers, was leading by the hill 
roads to Erancheval. In fact, by noon the Guard horse- 
men were masters of Carignan and such provision stores 
as the French had not time to destroy ; and the Saxons, 
.passing through Douzy, had fallen upon a convoy on the 
right bank. The fire of infantry forced them back upon 


the town, but they held that and the nnbroken bridge 
until the adyance gpiard of the 12th came up in the 
afternoon and established themselyes in the place. The 
Prussian Guard meanwhile, after a long march, had reached, 
with its leading battalions. Form aux Bois and FranchevaU 
the main body halting between Sachy and Missincourt, 
and the cavalry remaining in the rear. TThus, the Saxon 
Prince's Army had secured all the bridge! over the Chiers 
and the important passage at Mouzon, where the 4th 
Corps stood on both banks of the Meuse.^ The outposts 
formed a chain from the right bank of the river in front 
of Dousy, through Francheval to the Belgian frontier, at 
that point only nine miles from the Chiers, and sixteen 
from the Mouse. This narrow belt of territory was thus 
barred against French enterprise ; the road to Montm^y 
and Metz was definitely closedJ The Saxon Prince did 
not push farther westward, because he knew that the Great 
Staff had planned a passage of the Meuse below Sedan for 
the next day, and, therefore, he did not wish to alarm the 
French. Enough had been done and his troops needed 
rest, especially the Guard, the whole of which had marched 
during the day upwards of thirty miles, and the advance 
g^uaids more. No wonder the French were astounded at 
the "prodigious marches" made by Germans, whom 
they had considered to be incapable of such energy and 
endurance. Some share of the French disasters must be 
IMitributed to that fatal form of error — contempt for the 

Not less success attended the operations of the Prussian 
Crown Prince, whose business it was to secure possession 
of the left bank of the Meuse, and, if practicable, bring 
batteries to bear upon the French troops. We have alreadj 
described the effect produced by the horse artillery batteries 
established under the protection of the cavalry at Frenois 

CHAP. XIII.] 8EDAK. 298 

upon the railway officials who sent oft the provision trains, 
and iipon the drivers who ran away with the powder and 
tools required to destroy the bridge at Donchery. Behind 
the cavalry the whole Army was soon in motion. The 
Wurtembergers marched from Verri^res to the neighbour- 
hood of Flize, where they became engaged with Vinoy's 
outposts, and induced them to bum the bridge over the 
Meuse. The 11th Corps moved upon Donchery, and, 
during the afternoon, not only secured the important 
bridge at that place, but constructed a second. The 5th 
Corps stood close in rear of the 11th, and the Second 
Bavarians halted at Baucourt. On the extreme left the 
6th Corps, covering the rear, went to Attigny, Semoy, 
and Amagne ; the 5th Division of Cavaky was at Tour- 
teron, and the 6th at Poix, both scouting over the rail- 
way to Beims, and one breaking the line at Faux. 

The 1st Bavarian Corps, which led the infantry advance 
upon the Meuse, moved early from Baucourt upon Bemilly 
and Aillicourt. They had only started at eight o'clock, 
yet their guns were in position opposite Bazeilles before 
the last division of Lebrun's Corps, marching from Douzy, 
could gain the village. The guns opened at very long 
range, and Lebrun, who was on the watch, was so im- 
pressed that he ordered the division to turn back and enter 
the position by Daigny, where there was a bridge over the 
Givonne. The French drew out their guns, which led Von 
der Tann to reinforce his own, so that there was soon a 
powerful line of batteries in action, and some houses in 
Bazeilles broke out into flames. Then the Bavarian in- 
fantry brigades arrived to support the advance guard, and 
the French threw out infantry to annoy the hostile gunners. 
Presently a sharp-eyed artilleryman observed that barrels 
of powder had been brought down to the railway bridge, 
apparently with intent to blow it up. Thereupon General 


Ton Steph&n diiected a Jiger battalion to frustrate this 
design ; and just as the French were lowering some barrels 
under the furthest arch, the Jagers, dashing on to the 
bridge, fell upon the working party, drove it off, and 
poured the powder into the Mouse. In this daring fashion 
was the railway viaduct saved from destruction under the 
noses of the 12th Corps. Yon der Tann, having the fear 
of Yon Moltke before his eyes, desired to save the bridge 
but not engage beyond the stream. The Jagers, however, 
who, in the judgment of their comrades, held a post of 
peril, were promptly supported, and the forward spirit 
gaining the upper hand, the little troop, driving in the 
French skirmishers, actually held for some time the fringe 
of Bazeilles ; but not being supported by the General, who 
refused to disobey orders and bring on a premature en- 
gagement, the hardy adventurers had to retire with loss, to 
the right bank. Yet they secured the bridge from des- 
truction, and to this day, apparently, General Lebrun 
cannot luiderstand how it came to pass that MacMahon's 
orders were not executed. The French say that the powder 
was spoilt and that no fresh supply could be got from 
Sedan; but no efEort is made to explain why, when the 
Bavarians threw a pontoon bridge over the Meuse, just 
above the railway crossing, Lebrun's people did nothing to 
prevent it. The truth is that they could not prevent one 
bridge from being preserved, and the other from being 

The gain on the day's resolute operations, therefore, was 
the acquisition of three permanent bridges oyer the Meuse, 
two above and one below Sedan ; the seizure of all the 
passages across the Chiers ; and the concentration of both 
Armies upon the right and left banks of the river within 
striking distance of the French troops packed up in a 
narrow area about Sedan. The Crown Prince brought his 


head-quaxters to Cli^merj, aud the King went through that 
place on his way to Vendresse. At Ch^mery, "a brief 
conference was held between the Generals Von Moltke Von 
Podbielski, and Von Blumenthal, relative to the general 
state of the campaign and the next steps which should be 
taken." It was a notable meeting, and few words, indeed, 
were required to indicate the finishing touches of an enter- 
prise, so unexpectedly imposed on them, and so resolutely 
carried out by these skilful, far-seeing, and audacious 
captains. They had come to the conclusion that the French 
had before them only one of two courses — ^they must either 
retreat bodily into Belgium, or sacrifice the greater part of 
their Army in an endeavour with the remainder to reach 
Paris by way of M^zieres. There was a third — ^to remain 
and be caught — ^but a finis so triumphant was not foreseen 
by the trio of warriors who met in the village of Oh^mery. 

The BaMlefield of Sedan. 
The battlefield of Sedan may be described as the space 
lying within the angle formed by the Mouse, and its little 
affluent, the Givonne, which flows in a southerly direction 
from the hills near the Belgian frontier. After passing 
Bazeilles and its bright meadows, the greater river meanders 
towards the north-west, making, a little below Sedan, a 
deep loop inclosing the narrow peninsula of Iges on three 
sides, and then running westward by Donchery, Dom le 
Mesnil and Flize to M^zieres. From the northern end of 
the loop to the Givonne, the ground is a rugged, undulat- 
ing upland, attaining its maximum of height a little south 
of the Oalvaire d'llly, at a point where the Bois de la 
Garenne begins to clothe the steep slopes on the south and 
east. Lower still is a deep defile, called the Fond de 
Givonne, through which, turning the wood, runs the high- 


waj from Sedan to Bouillon, a town on the Semoy in. 
Belgium. The eastern face of the position, therefore, was 
the line of the Ghivonne, a belt <^ cottages, gardens, 
factories and Tillages ; the southern and south-western was 
the fortress and the Mouse ; the north-western, front was 
on the hiUs between Floing and Illy, and the lowlands on 
the loop of the Mouse. The interval between Hlj and the 
Givonne was, at first, neglected because the French held 
that no troops could work through the dense forest and 
broken ground The issues from this man-trap were the 
narrow band of territory between the head of the Meuse 
loop and the wooded Belgian frontier; the high road to 
Bouillon ; the routes eastward to Carignan up the Chiers, 
and the gate of Torcj on the south. They were all difficult, 
and in the nature of defiles which can only be traversed 
slowly, even in time of peace, by large bodies of men, 
horses, guns and wagons. 

Within this remarkable inclosure the French Army sat 
down on the 31st of August. The 12th and the IstOorps, 
Lebrun's andDucrot's, held the line of the Givonne, looking 
east and south-east, because Lebrun had to guard the 
Meuse at Bazeilles. The 5th Corps, now under De 
Wimpffen, was partly in the ** old camp," close under the 
fortress, and partly behind the 7th, which, as we have said, 
occupied the rolling heights between Floing and lUy with 
a strong outpost in St. Menges, at the head of the Meuse 
loop on the road which led to Mezieres through Vrigne aux 
Bois — the road supposed to be unknown to the Germans, 
because it was not laid down on the French maps. The 
cavalry posted in rear of the 7th were the divisions of 
Margueritte, Bonnemains and Amiel, while Michel was 
behind Ducrot's left at the village of Givonne. The sun 
set, and the night passed, yet Marshal MacMahon expressed 
no decision. Believing that the enemy's numerical strength 


had been exaggerated, or that he could break out in any 
direction when he pleased, or trusting to fortune and the 
opportunities which might offer during the conflict, perhaps 
imagining that Yon Moltke would grant hiin another day, 
the Marshal became the sport of circumstance which had 
escaped his control. " The truth is," he said to the 
Parliamentary Commission, "that I did not reckon on 
fighting a battle on the ground we occupied. I knew already 
that we had no provisions, and that the place was barely 
supplied with munitions, but I did not yet know on which 
side I ought, on the morrow (the 1st) to effect my retreat." 
The unfaltering adversary had no such doubts, and his firm 
purpose brought on not only the Battle, but the Investment 
of Sedan. For the information which reached the Great 
Head-quarters during the evening of the 31st, induced Yon 
Moltke to quicken the operations. He inferred that no 
attempt would be made by the French to break out by 
Carignan ; that they might try to reach Mezi^res or pass 
into Belgium ; and as he was eager to frustrate their 
escape by any route, he instructed the Prussian Crown 
Prince to set his Corps in motion during the night. The 
Prince immediately issued the needful orders, and directed 
Yon der Tann to attack with his Bavarians at dawn, 
without awaiting the arrival of the 12th Corps, so that 
Lebrun in Bazeilles being held fast, the attention of the 
French might be attracted towards that side. The Saxon 
Prince, being duly informed, entered with characteristic 
spirit and daring into the plan, and not only determined 
to be early on the scene of action with the 12th and the 
Guard, but to push the latter well forward, so as to antici- 
pate the French should they endeavour to gain the Belgian 
border. Thus a common motive animated the German 
chiefs who, in taking firm steps to gain a decisive result, 
were so well seconded by their tireless and intrepid soldiers. 


The.Battle of 8edan. 
A thick white mist filled the vallej of the Mease on the 
morning of the Ist of September, 1870, so thick that Yon 
der Tann's Bavarians, marching towards the railway bridge 
and the pontoons above it, could not see many steps ahead, 
as in two columns they moved at four o'clock in careful 
silence through the dense and clammy atmosphere. At 
that very time General Lebrun, whose anxieties kept him 
awake, started up, and rushing forth, made the first bugler 
he encountered sound the call, which roused the wearied 
troops sleeping on the hills between Bazeilles and Balan. 
Yet it would seem that, outside the former village, no 
adequate watch was kept, for when the leading Bavarians 
emerged from the fog, they gained at once possession of 
several houses, and even entered the principal street with- 
out firing a shot. It was only when the enemy were within 
the place, that the gallant Marine Infantry, posted in the 
houses and behind barricades, abruptly arrested the intru- 
ders by opening a smart fire. Then began a sanguinary 
contest for the possession of Bazeilles, which raged during 
many hours ; a series of street fights in which the inhabi- 
tants took an active part; combats ebbing and flowing 
through and round the market-place, the church, the larger 
mansions, and the pretty park of MonviUers, washed and 
beautified by the stream of the G-ivonne. Without a de- 
tailed plan, the incidents of this terrible episode in the 
battle, are unintelligible. Vassoigne and Martin des 
Palliferes, before the latter was wounded on the 31st, had 
devised a plan of resistance worthy of the gallant division 
they led, and it may be said that the defence of Bazeilles 
was the most creditable feat of arms performed by the 
French on that dreadful day. During the earlier hours, 
indeed, they kept the upper hand, driving the Bavariaois 


out of the village on all sides, but being unable to eject 
them from two stone bouses abut^g on the chief street. 
The Bavarian batteries beyond the Meuse could not open 
fire until six o'clock, because the fog had shut out the view» 
which even then was indistinct. About this time Greneral 
Lebrun, who was quickly on the scene, had called rein- 
forcements from the 1st and 5th Corps; but then the 
Saxons had come up opposite La Moncelle, where one 
battery, firing at long range, astonished Lebrun, who saw 
that the shells from his own guns fell short, or burst in the 
air. When the 12th assailed La Moncelle fresh Bavarian 
columns had crossed the Meuse, and the fierce conflict 
which began in Bazeilles, had extended to the park of 
MonviUers, where the French fought steadily. After four 
hours strenuous battle, no marked progress had been made 
in this quarter, where three Bavarian brigades had fallen 
almost wholly into skirmishing order, scattered amidst the 
houses and lanes of the villages, and some part of the park 
on the left bank of the Q-ivonne. Von der Tann bringing 
over another brigade and the reserve artillery from the left 
bank of the Meuse, called up a division of the 4th Corps 
which he held back as a reserve. During the course of 
this stubborn combat, the Saxon Corps had seized La Mon- 
celle, and had brought ten batteries to bear on that village 
and Daigny, their left flank being prolonged by two Bava- 
rian batteries. The accuracy of their fire still further 
astonished Greneral Lebrun, who confesses that he had never 
seen such artillery. He and his staff, six or eight persons, 
were on an eminence above La Moncelle. " The shells," he 
writes, " cut off one branch after another, from the tree at 
the foot of which I stood holding my horse ; " and he goes 
on to say that in quick succession, one officer was killed, 
two mortally wounded, and two men who bore his f anion 
were hit. He was as much impressed by the ** avalanche 


de fer" as Marshal^ Canrobert himself. The infantry in 
Bazeilles resisted superbly, but the Frendi General was 
none the less amazed by the terrible fire of the German 
guns. Between eight and nine the wave of battle was 
flowing up the Givonne, for the Guard were now approach- 
ing from Yillers-Cernay. 

MacMahorCs Wound and iie Consequences, 
Meanwhile, inside the French lines, the drama had 
deepened, for the Commander-in-Chief had been wounded. 
Marshal MacMahon has related how, before daybreak, 
fearing lest the Germans should have moved troops over 
the Mouse at Donchery, he had sent two officers to look 
into matters in that quarter, and was awaiting their return 
when, about five o'clock, he received a despatch fromLebrun, 
which made him mount his ready-saddled horse and ride 
towards Bazeilles. Arrived there he saw that the place 
was well defended, and went to the leftintending to examine 
the whole line of the Givonne, especially as Margueritte had 
sent word that German troops were moving towards Fran- 
cheval. Halting above La Moncell^ not far from Lebrun, 
the Marshal has stated that while he was gazing intently 
upon the heights in front of the Bois Chevalier, and could 
not see anything, he was struck by the fragment of a shell. 
At first he thought that he was only bruised, but that being 
obliged to dismount from his horse, which was also wounded, 
he fainted for a moment, and then found that his wound 
was severe. Unable to bear up any longer he gave over 
the command of the Army to General Ducrot, and was 
carried to Sedan. That officer did not hear of the event 
until seven or later ; it is impossible to fix precisely the 
moment when the Marshal was hit, nor when Ducrot learned 
his destiny, the evidence is so contradictory; but sometime 


between seven and eight Ducrot took the reins. His first 
act was to order a retreat on M^zi^es ; Lebrun begged him 
to reflect and he did, but soon afterwards became positive. 
** There is not a moment to lose," he cried ; and it was 
arranged that the retreat should be made in echelons, 
beginning from the right of the 12th Corps. Neither 
General knew the real facts of the situation, nor guessed 
even how vast were the numbers of the enemy. 

The retreat began ; it attracted the notice of Nappleon 
m., who had ridden on to the field above Balan ; and it 
roused Be Wimpffen. He carried in his pocket an order 
from Palikao authorizing him to succeed MacMahon, if the 
Marshal were killed or disabled. He had kept the fact 
secret ; after the Marshal fell he still hesitated to use his 
letter, but not long. The combat about Bazeilles was well 
sustained ; the cavalry had been out a little way beyond 
St. Menges and, as usual, after a perfunctory search, had 
** seen nothing," the attack on the Givonne even was not 
fully developed. Cteneral de Wimpffen, perhaps from mixed 
motives, resolved to interfere and show his old comrades 
how a man who really knew war could extricate a French 
Army from perils in which it had been placed by weakness 
and incompetence. He certainly thought himself a great 
man, and he roughly stopped the retreat. Ducrot was in- 
dignant, but he obeyed. Lebrun was not more favourably 
affected by De Wimpffen's loud voice and overbearing 
manner. " I will not have a movement upon M^zi^res," he 
exclaimed. " If the Army is to retreat, it shall be on Carig- 
nan and not on M^ziires." It ^ould again be observed 
that the new Commander-in-Chief was quite as ignorant of 
the facts as his predecessors, and even when he wrote his 
book many months afterwards had not learned from sources 
open to all the world how many men stood at that moment 
betwe^i him and Carignan, nor was he at all acquainted 


with the difficult countrj through which he would have to 
move. Ducrot's plan, which would have placed the Army 
between the Mouse below Sedan and the forest on the 
frontier, leaving a dear sweep for the guns of the fortress, 
was far more sensible than that of his imperious riyal. 
Still, to have a chance of success, it should have been begun 
early in the morning, when the 5th and 11th German 
Corps were struggling towards the woods; even then it 
would have probably failed, but there would have been no 
capitulation of Sedan. General de Wimpffen, although he 
did not know it, was actually playing into the hand of Yon 
Moltke, who desired above all things that the French Corps 
on the Givonne should remain there, because he knew, so 
great were his means, so firm his resolution, and so admir- 
able as marchers and fighters were his soldiers, that the 
gain of a few hours would enable him to surround the 
Army of Chalons. 

How far the retreat from the front line was carried, 
when it was stayed, and in what degree it injured the 
defence, cannot possibly be gleaned from the French narra* 
tives, which are all vague and imperfect in regard to time 
and place. We know that the Germans did not carry 
BazeiUes until nearly eleven o'clock, and then only by dint 
of turning movements executed by the Saxons and fresh 
Bavarian troops from the direction of La MonceUe. General 
Ducrot, in his account, places his stormy interview with De 
Wimpffen at a little after nine ; and he says that when it 
ended he spurred in haste towards his divisions — ^Pell^s 
and L'H^riller's — ^and made them descend a part of the 
positions which they had climbed a few instants before. 
Lebrun is equally vague. He says in one place that when 
De Wimpffen came up his first brigades had "partly" 
crossed the Fond de Givonne, and in another, that the 
Marine Infantry had abandoned Bazeilles, which they had 

CHAP. Xin.] SEDAN. 803 

not done before nine o'clock. G-eneral de Wimpffen's 
recollections are still more confused and bis chronology 
unintelligible; so tbat it is impossible to ascertain pre- 
cisely what happened beyond the Givonne after Ducrot 
ordered and his successor countermanded the retreat. If 
we take the German accounts, and try to measure the 
influence of the much-debated retreat by the resistance 
which the assailants encountered, we may doubt whether 
it had much greater influence on the issue than that which 
grew out of the impaired confidence of the troops in their 
antagonistic and jealous commanders. Nevertheless, it is 
probable that the swaying to and fro in the French line 
between BazeiUes and the village of Givonne, after nine 
o'clock, did, in some degree, favour the assailants, and 
render the acquisition of BazeiUes as well as the passage of 
the brook less difficult and bloody. In any case, the inter- 
vention of De Wimpffen can only be regarded as a mis- 
fortune for the gallant French Army, which can hardly 
find consolation in the fact that within four-and-twenty 
hours he was obliged to sign with his name the capitula- 
lation of Sedan. 

This needful explanation and comment serves to illus- 
trate the disorder, the infirmity of purpose, and the rival- 
ries which existed in the French camp ; and we may well 
agree with Marshal MacMahon when he says that the blow 
which obliged him to relinquish the command was a griev- 
ous event. Doubtless he would have taken a decided course 
had he not been wounded, and would have marched, if he 
could, with all his forces, either on M^zieres or Carignan ; 
and besides, he says, there was Belgium near at hand. He 
would not have tried to do all three at once. It is only an 
Army, well compacted and educated from the bottom to 
the top which can, without serious detriment, bear three 
successive commanders in three hours. 


Progress of the BaUle on the Oivonne, \ 

While the French generals, almost in the presence of 
the helpless Emperor, were using high words and thwart- 
ing each other's plans, the German onset had proceeded on 
all sides with unabated yigour. But, about nine o'clock, 
or a little earlier, the French dashed forward so impetu- 
ously that the foremost German troops on the Givonne as 
far as Daignj, had to give ground ; and the batteries were 
so Tcxed by musketry fire that they also fell back on some .^ 
points. In fact Lebrun's left and Ducrot's right came on I 
with great spirit, and shook, but did not arrest long the ^ 
hostile Hne. It was not until this period that the French 
in Daigny pushed a brigade on to the left bank of the 
Givonne and occupied ground which, by the confession of 
their staff officers, had never been reconnoitred. They 
brought over a battery, and General Lartigue rode with 
them. The brunt of the onslaught, falling upon the Saxon 
infantry immediately in front, these were hard bested ; but 
reinforcements arriving on either hand closed in upon the 
enemy's flanks, and, not only was he routed from the field, 
but, being swiftly pursued, his battery was captured, and 
the Saxons following the French into Daigny wrested from 
them the village, the bridge, and the opposite bank of the 
brook. General Lartigue's horse was killed by a shell, 
and he narrowly escaped capture, and was then, or shortly 
afterwards, wounded. His chief of the staff. Colonel d'An- 
dign^, hit twice, dropped in a field of beet-root. Shells 
from his own side fell near him, and he was g^teful to 
them because they drove away a pig which came and sniffed 
at his wounds. Saxon soldiers gave him wine and lumps 
of sugar, but one of them stole his watch and cross; in the 
end he was tenderly carried to an ambulance. Some of 
the Zouaves engaged in this combat about Daigny, cut off 


from the main body of fagitives, turned northward, entered 
the woods, and -reached Paris after traversing the Belgian 

The G-ermans owed their quick success at Daigny to the 
fact that Lartigue was not supported, and to the fortunate 
advent, at a critical moment, of the leading troops of the 
Second Saxon Division, the whole of the 12th Corps being 
now on the ground, engaged or in reserve. It need 
scarcely be remarked that the batteries, as usual, preceded 
the bulk of the infantry, for it was the Saxon guns which 
extorted the admiration of Lebrun. The attack, which had 
been made from his side, upon the Saxons and Bavarians 
about La Moncelle, was equally brilliant at the outset, for, 
as we have stated, the G-erman batteries were driven back 
by the close musketry, and the French were advancing im- 
petuously, when a Saxon regiment and part of a Bavarian 
brigade striking into the fight, stopped the French and 
drove them across the rivulet. Then the artillery returned ; 
soon there were ninety-six guns in action; and the in« 
fantry pressing on, restored the battle. But in Bazeilles 
itseK the Marines had gained ground, and fresh troops 
had to be poured into the village or upon its outskirts to 
sustain the assailants, who were still held at bay by the 
stout defenders. Yet the final stroke at the village was 
delivered shortly after this check. The troops in Mon- 
villers and La Moncelle simultaneously swept forward from 
the orchards, and osier-beds, and gardens, until they 
emerged on the heights beyond, and showed a front which 
threatened the road from Bazeilles to Balan. 

The French stronghold in the place was a large villa on 
the north, which had resisted all day ; but now the freshly 
arrived Bavarians penetrated into the garden and turned 
the building on one side ; while the Saxons grouped in the 
park of Monvillers, cutting a path through the hedges 


with their billhooks, appeared on the other. The French 
then retreated; but the splendid defence of the whole 
position had inflicted a heavy loss on the adversary. 

In Bazeilles itself a conflict continued between the armed 
inhabitants and the Bavarians, and soon after the whole 
village was in flames. Whether it was set on fire purposely 
or not is to this day a matter of bitter controversy ; but it 
stands on record that only thirty-nine lay persons met their 
deaths, during this long contest, from fire or sword. It 
was not the interest of the Germans to create a furnace 
across a line of road ; and one effect of the conflagration 
was that the German pioneers, unable to quench it, were 
compelled to open a line of communication with the troops 
on the fighting line outside the burning village. 

The French retired and reformed between the Fond de 
Oivonne and Balan, whence their line ran northward, no 
longer in the valley, but along the uplands to the Calvaire 
d'lUy ; for the Prussian Guard, issuing from Yillers-Cemay 
and Francheval, had thrust the French out of the village 
of Givonne, and, long before Basseilles was finally mastered, 
had established powerful lines of guns which harassed the 
French troops in the Bois de la Gurenne. In fact, .by nine 
o'clock, there were six guard batteries in action, and two 
hours afterwards the number was increased to fourteen. 
Givonne was seized a little later, and infantry support 
afforded to the right of the 12th Corps; but Prince 
Augustus, in conformity with his instructions, held the 
main body of the Guard ready to march towards Fleigneux, 
effect a junction with the Third Army, and bar the road to 
Bouillon. From an eminence a little east of Givonne and 
just south of La Yir^ farm, whereon eighteen guns stood, 
the Prince, looking westward about nine o'clock, saw the 
smoke of that combat near St. Menges, which he knew 
marked the formidable intervention of the 5th and 11th 


Corps, whose operations in the forenoon must now be sue. 
cinctiy described. 

The March on St. Menges, 
It will be remembered that, on receiving a pressing order 
from Von Moltke, the Prussian Crown Prince directed the 
two Corps just named and the Wurtemberg division to 
move out in the dark and occupy the M^ziires road in 
order to intercept the French should they endeavour to 
retire upon that town. They promptly obeyed. The Wur- 
tembergers crossed the Mouse on a bridge of their own 
making, at Dom le Mesnil; the 5th and 11th at Donchery 
by the permanent bridge and two improvised passages. 
The object of the two Corps was to occupy the nearest 
villages on the M^zieres road, Yrigne aux Bois and Yivier 
au Court, both which were attained about half-past 
seven, when the contest was fierce on the Q-ivonne. Here 
the generals commanding, Yon Eirchbach and Yon G^rs- 
dorf^ received that despatch from the Prussian Crown 
Prince which directed them to march on St. Menges and 
Fleigneux, for at head-quarters a strong hope had now 
arisen that the Army of Chalons could be surrounded. 
The 11th moved on the right, next the Mouse, the 5th 
on the left ; but the roads were few between the river and 
the forest — one column lost its way, and both Corps at the 
head of the Loop had to use the same road. No French 
scouts were out along this important line of communication. 
Margueritte's horsemen had patroUed a short distance, 
about six, but neither saw nor heard of the approaching 
columns ; nor until the German Hussars, leading the err- 
ing column ascending the Meuse from Montimont, had got 
close to St. Menges, were they discovered by a French 
patrol sent out at the suggestion 6f De Wimpffen. 


The Wth and hth Corps engage. 
The shots exchanged by the hostile cavaliers aroused the 
French infantry in St. Menges ; bnt they offered no resist- 
ance when the nearest German battalion attacked the 
village, which was immediately occupied. Two companies, 
prolonging the movement, effected a lodgment in Floing 
and could not be expelled ; while three batteries, escorted 
by the Hussars, dashed upon the ridge south of St. Menges, 
partly protected by a copse, and opened fire on the French. 
It was this initial combat which attracted the notice of 
Prince Augustus of Wurtemberg, who looked with interest, 
from his hill above the Givonne, upon the white battle 
smoke which curled up beyond the heights of Illy. Shortly 
afterwards seven additional batteries issued from the defile 
and formed in succession on the hill — ^the same which had 
filled General Douay with anxiety the day before — ^and 
some infantry battalions followed; but the body of the 
11th Corps was only just clearing the pass, and the 5th 
was still behind. In order to protect the batteries, in* 
fantry supports were advanced on either flank and in 
front towards the Illy brook. General Margueritte, on the 
Calvaire d'llly had watched this unwelcomed development 
of artillery. Seeing the infantry spread out below, he 
thought that his horse might ride them down and then 
disable the line of batteries, which seemed to be without 
adequate support. Accordingly, by his order, General de 
Gulliffet led forth three regiments of Chasseurs d'Afrique 
and two squadrons of Lancers against the intrusive foot 
and audacious gunners. But he never got near the bat- 
teries. Swooping down the slope upon the infantry below 
him, his men and horses soon fell fast, and although they 
swept through the skirmishers, they were crushed by the 
fire of the suppoi*ts and the guns on the hill and the 


squads of infantry on either side. They endeavoured to 
ride in upon the flanks, but their bravery was displayed in 
vain, for nothing could live under the fire which smote 
them, and they rode back, frustrated, to the shelter of 
their own lines. The cavalry outburst had been repelled 
by a few companies of foot on an open hill-side. So puis- 
sant is the breech-loader in the hands of cool infantry 
soldiers. But the French foot took up the game, and the 
chassepot, deftly plied, forced the forward German skirm- 
ishers to fall back on the villages and hills. 

Gradually the two Corps arrived on the scene. Before 
eleven o'clock the artillery of the 5th, preceding its in- 
fantry, went into line on a second ridge to the westward, 
and soon twenty-four batteries — that is, 144 guns — were 
pouring an " avalanche de fer " into the French position, 
and crossing their fire with that of the Guard batteries, 
which showered their shells into the right rear of Douay's 
men from the heights beyond the Givonne. About this 
time, also, as reinforcements came up to Fleigneux, the 
companies there moved westward towards Oily ; captured, 
on their way, eight guns, many horses, much munition, 
and above a hundred officers and men, who seemed intent 
on escaping over the frontier, and finally entered Oily, 
where soon afterwards they were gratified by the arrival of 
a squadron of Prussian Hussars of the Guard. Thus was 
the circle completed which placed the two Armies in com- 
munication. In front of the right wing the two companies 
which at the outset obtained a lodgment in Floing, were 
at length supported and reheved. As the infantry from 
the wooded region north of the Mouse Loop arrived, they 
took the place of the battalions near the guns, and these 
then went forward upon Floing, one after the other, and 
by degrees got possession of the village. But the French 
delivered a counterstroke so well pushed that the de- 


fenders of Floing oould not keep them back, and tbej were 
only thmst out bj the timely intervention of three fresh 
battalions from St. Menges. The French retired towards 
the heights of Cazal, and for some time stopped the 
further advance of their foes. 

The battle was now practicallj won ; for the Germans 
held Balan as well as Bazeilles, supported by one-half the 
2nd Bavarian Corps brought np to aid the 1st; one 
division of the 4th Corps was deep in the fight, and the 
other in reserve, close at hand ; the line of the G-ivonne, 
from end to end, was occupied on both banks ; the Guard 
Cavalry, after vainly trying to charge np the Calvaire 
d'lUy, were behind the 5th Corps ; south of the Meuse a 
Bavarian division faced the fortress ; and to the west the 
Wurtembei^ers interposed between Vinoy's troops in 
M^ziires and Sedan. Above all, a little after one o'clock, 
there were no fewer than 426 guns hailing shells upon 
the unfortunate French, who were almost piled one upon 
another in an area which did not measure two miles either 
in depth or breadth. It stands on record that there were 
in fuU action twenty-six batteries on the North, twenty- 
four on the East, ten to the West of La Moncelle, and 
eleven on the South between Wadelincourt and Yillette — 
an array of force enough to crush out all resistance ; but 
the conflict still -continued, for no one had authority suf- 
ficient to stop the awful carnage. 

The Condition of the French Army, 
The main interest of the drama henceforth centres in 
the despairing efforts of the French to avert the catastrophe 
of Sedan. Early in the morning the Emperor Napoleon 
mounted his horse and rode out with his own staff to 
witness the battle. On his way towards Bazeilles he met 

CHAP. Xin.] SEDAN. • 811 

and spoke to the wounded Marshal, who was being carried 
to the hospital in Sedan. Then the Emperor rode towards 
the hills above La Moncelle, and for several hours he 
lingered on the field, well under fire, for two officers were 
wounded near him ; but he had no influence whatever on 
the battle. Soon after taking command, De Wimpffen, 
riding out of the Fond de Givonne, came plump upon 
Napoleon as he watched the fight near Balan. " All goes 
well. Sire," said the General ; " we are gaining ground ; " 
and when His Majesty remarked that the left, meaning 
the front towards St. Menges, was threatened, the Q-eneral 
replied, "We shall first pitch the Bavarians into the Meuse, 
9.nd then, with all our forces, fall upon the new foe.*' They 
parted, the Emperor returning to Sedan, whence he did 
not em'erge again that day, and the General careering 
towards the fight. Then followed a sharp dispute between 
De Wimpffen and Ducrot, in the presence of Lebrun, end- 
ing in the order to stop the so-called retreat which had 
scarcely begun. It is impossible to reconcile the conflicting 
accounts of these officers ; but Be Wimpffen's own words 
show that, at the time, he did not attach great importance 
to the attack on Douay, for to that General he wrote, " I 
believe in a demonstration upon your Corps, especially 
designed to hinder you from sending help to the 1st and 
12th Corps," and he asked him to aid Lebrun. Then he 
went himself to the position held by Douay, in order to 
expedite the despatch of reinforcements. " Come and see for 
yourself," said Douay, on reaching the heights. '* I saw 
quite a hostile Army extending afar," writes De Wimpffen, 
".and a formidable artillery — "the big batteries of the 
6th and 11th Corps — firing with a precision which, under 
other circumstances," he adds, " I should have been the first 
to admire." Prince Bibesco says that De Wimpffen pro- 
mised to send troops from the 1st Corps to occupy the 


Calvaire d'lllj, and then went away. As he was riding 
back, in that state of emotion which the French describe 
bj the phrase, ** le coeur navr^," he encountered Ducrot. 
" The events which I predicted," said the latter, " have 
happened sooner than I expected. The enemy is attacking 
the Calvaire d'lllj. Douaj is greatly shaken. Moments 
are precious. Hurry up reinforcements if you would keep 
that position." "Well," retorted De Wimpffen, still 
believing that he had only Bavarians to deal with, " look 
after that yourself. Collect what troops you can and hold 
the groxmd while I attend to the 12th Corps." Thereupon 
Ducrot ordered up guns and infantry; while then, or 
shortly afterwards, De Wimpffen called for troops from 
Douay, who, believing the Calvaire was or would be 
occupied by Ducrot's people, sent ofE three brigades, and 
put his last division in front line. Apparently the cross 
currents of wandering battalions met in the wood of 
Garenne ; and it is not easy to see how any advantages 
were obtained by the shifting to and fro which went on. 
Ducrot was anxious to defend the Dly plateau; De Wimpffen 
desired to break out towards Carignan. He fondled the 
idea at one o'clock, when neither object could possibly 
be attained ; but if there had been a chance left, the con- 
flict between the two Generals would have sufficed to 
destroy it. 

That " Army " which De Wimpffen saw from the north- 
western heights came on in irresistible waves. The French 
infantry could not endure the thick and ceaseless hail of 
shells from the terrible batteries. The French artillery, 
brave and devoted, vainly went into action, for the con- 
verging fire from the hostile hiUs blew up the tumbrils, 
sometimes two at once, killed and wounded the gunners, 
and swept away the horses. Ducrot's reinforcements, 
despite his forward bearing and animated language, melted 


away into the woods, and the last battalions and the last 
two batteries led up by Douay were speedily forced to 
retire. The Germans, already in the village of Illy, ad- 
vanced to the Calvaire, while the troops of the 11th Corps 
sallied out of Floing, deployed on both sides, and soon the 
interval between the two villages was full of hostile troops. 
General Ducrot pictures himself, and doubtless truly, as 
using every effort by word and example to rally and hold 
fast the foot ; but they could not be held ; they slipped ofE 
and vanished under the trees. At this time the only strong 
body of French was Li^bert's division above the terraced 
hill which leads up to Oazal, and the cavalry of Margueritte 
and Bonnemains lurking in the hoUows and under the 
cover of trees. To these men Ducrot appealed, and his 
appeal was nobly answered. 

The French Oavalry Charge, 
G(eneral Margueritte commanded five regiments of horse, 
principally Chasseurs d'Afrique. At the request of Ducrot 
he promptly moved out from cover, and prepared to charge ; 
but wishing to reconnoitre the ground, he rode in advance, 
and was hit in the head by a bullet which traversed his 
face. Mortally wounded, he gave the command to De 
Galliffet, and rode off, supported by two men, and grasping 
the saddle with both hands, ''the star of his arm," as 
Colonel Bonie poetically calls him. Then De Gtilliffet 
performed his task, and rode straight into the intrusive 
enemy. For half an hour, on the hill sides south of Floing, 
and even the lowlands bordering the Meuse, the dashing 
French horsemen dauntlessly struck at their foes. The 
German infantry scattered in lines of skirmishers, were just 
attaining the crest of the eminence, when the cavalry 
dashed upon them. They broke through the skirmishers. 


but fell in heaps under the fire of the compact bodies of 
supports. Failing to crush a front, they essayed the flanks 
and even the rear, and nothing dismayed, sought again and 
again to ride over the stubborn adversary, who, relying on 
his rifle, would not budge. The more distant infantry and 
the guns, when occasion served, smote these devoted 
cavaliers. Sometimes the Germans met them in line, at 
others they formed groups, or squares as the French call 
them, and occasionally they fought back to back. One 
body of horse rode into a battery, and was only repelled 
by the fire of a company of infantry. Another dashed 
through a village on the banks of the river, and although 
they were harried by infantry, and turned aside and 
followed by some Prussian hussars, several rode far down 
the river, and created some disorder in the German trains. 
There were many charges, all driven home as far at least 
as the infantry fire would permit, more than one carry- 
ing the furious riders up to the outskirts of Floing. But, 
in the end, the unequal contests everywhere had the same 
result — ^bloody defeat for the horseman, who matched him- 
self, his lance or sword and steed against the breech-loader 
held by steady hands in front of keen eyes. Yet it is not 
surprising that these daring charges excited the ungrudging 
admiration and deep sympathy of friend and foe. They 
did not arrest the march of the Qerman infantry, or turn 
the tide of battle, or even infuse new courage into the 
French soldiers, who were exposed to trials which few, if 
any, troops could bear. But they showed, plainly enough, 
that the "furia francese" survived in the cavalry of France, 
and that, if the mounted men refused or disdained to 
perform more useful work by scouting afar and covering 
the front of armies, they could still charge with imabated 
heroism on the field of battle. They were dispersed, and 
they left behind heaps of dead and dying-one-half their 


strength resting on the scene of their daring. Three 
Grenerals, Margueritte, Girard and Tilliard, were killed, 
and Salignac-Fenelon was wounded. The Germans say 
that their own losses were small, but that among the Jagers 
a comparatively large number of men were wounded by the 
sword. These notable exploits were done about two o'clock 
or a little later ; and, with slight exceptions, they mark the 
end of desperately offensive resistance on the part of the 

During the next hour the Germans pressed their ad- 
versaries close up to Sedan, " When the cavalry had been 
driven back in disorder," says Ducrot in his sweeping 
style, "the last bodies of infantry which had stood firm 
broke and fled. Then on the right and left, with loud 
hurrahs, which mingled with the roar of cannon and 
musketry, the Prussian lines advanced." The statement is 
too superlative. The cavalry in squads, wandered, no 
doubt, from ravine to ravine, seeking an asylum, or tried 
to enter the fortress. The remains of several brigades 
were piled up in the wood of Garenne, and exposed to an 
incessant shell fire. But Li^bert's division stoutly defended 
Cazal, and gave back, foot by foot, until they also were 
under the ramparts. Towards four o'clock the converging 
German columns, despite frantic onsets from bands of 
French infantry, especially on the Givonne front, had 
thrust these over the deep hollow way, and the victors 
were only halted when they came within range of the 
garrison guns. 

Oeneral de WimjpfferCa CounterstroJce, 
Throughout the battle General de Wimpffen cherished 
the idea that it would be feasible to crush "the Ba- 
varians " and retreat on Carignan. At one o'clock he sent 


a despatcb to General Douaj, telling the General to cover 
his retreat in that direction. Douaj received it an hour 
afterwards, and he then replied that "with onlj three 
brigades, without artillery, and almost without munitions," 
the utmost he could do would be to retreat in order from 
the field. That was near the moment when Li^bert began 
to fall back, fighting stiffly, from OazaL At a quarter past 
one De Wimpffen wrote a letter to the Emperor saying 
that ** rather than be made prisoner in Sedan," he would 
force the line in his front. " Let your Majesty," he said, 
** place himself in the midst of his troops ; they will hold 
themselves bound in honour to fray out a passage." His 
Majesty took no notice of this appeal, and De Wimpffen 
waited in vain for a reply ; but he spent the time in an en- 
deavour to dash in the barrier in his front, direct an attack on 
the Givonne, which failed; and to organize an onset on Bahm, 
which partly succeeded. He went into Sedan and brought 
out troops, and gathered up all he could from the errant frag- 
ments of a broken Army. With these he fell fiercely an^ un- 
expectedly upon the Bavarians in Balan ; refused to suspend 
the fight when ordered by the Emperor to open negotiations 
with the enemy ; and by degrees became master of all the vil- 
lage except one bouse. But he could not emerge and continue 
his onslaught, for the hostile artillery began to play on the 
village; reinforcements were brought up, arrangements 
were made to frustrate the ulterior aim of the French and 
recover the lost ground. Against a resolute advance the in- 
fantry led by De WimpfEen could not stand, and possession 
of the village was regained just as the white flag went up 
over the nearest gate of Sedan. Suddenly the firing ceased 
on both sides. Although respectfully described by the 
Germans, General de Wimpffen's last charge is scoffed at 
by Ducrot and Lebrun, whom he had enraged by declaring 
both guilty of disobedience. Lebrun, who was an eye- 


CHAP. Xni.] SEDAN. 317 

witness as well as a gallant actor in the forlorn hope, says 
that they had not gone a quarter of a mile before the 
column broke and took refuge in the nearest houses. 
Looking back, De Wimpffen is reported by his comrade to 
have said, "I see we are not followed and that there is 
nothing more to do. Order the troops to retreat on Sedan." 
The battle had, at length, come to an end. The German 
infantry, both near Cazal and Balan were within a short 
distance of the fortifications ; in the centre they stood 
south of the Warren Wood ; to the eastward long lines of 
guns crowned the heights on both banks of the G-ivonne ; 
on the south, the gate of Torcy was beset, and behind all 
the foremost lines were ample reserves, horse as well as 
foot, which had never fired a shot. The number of 
batteries had increased during the afternoon, for the 
Wiirtemberg artillery was called over the Mouse and set in 
array at the bend of the river above Donchery. Even the 
high-tempered, if imperious, De Wimpffen was obliged to 
admit that through this dread circle, neither for him nor 
any other, was there an outlet. The agony had been 
prolonged, but enough had been done to satisfy the 
"honour" of the most obstinate and punctilious of 
generals. The wearied, wasted, famished, and imnerved 
French troops were thankful for the impressive stillness 
and imwonted rest which came abruptly with the declining 
sun, even though it set the seal on a horrible disaster^ 

The Emperor and his Oenerah, 
Had Napoleon III. retained that Imperial authority 
which he had been supposed to possess, the slaughter 
might have been stayed some hours before. For early in 
the afternoon he became convinced that the Army could 
not be extricated, and that the time had come when it 


would be well to treat. His experiences, as a superfluous 
attendant on the battle-field, were dolorous. The first 
object which met his gaze was the wounded MarshaL The 
depressing incident may hare called up visions of Italian 
triumphs ; and, reflecting on the painful contrast, he may 
have remembered what he said after returning from the 
sanguinary victory of Solferino — ^that no more would he 
willingly lead great Armies to war ; for the sight of its 
horrors had touched the chord of sympathy with human 
suffering which had always readily vibrated in his heart. 
During several hours he watched the tempest lower and 
break in fury ; he saw and felt its effects, for two officers 
were shot at his side ; wherever he looked the clouds of 
encircling battle smoke rose in the clear simshine; and 
when he rode back into Sedan the terrible shells were 
bursting in the ditches, and even on the bridge which he 
traversed to gain his quarters. As the day wore on his 
gloomy meditations took a more definite shape ; he wished 
to stop the conflict, and he seems to have thought first that 
an armistice might be obtained, and then that the King of 
Prussia, if personally besought, would grant the Army easy 
terms; for the idea of a capitulation had grown up and 
hardened in his mind. 

At his instigation, no officer has come forward to daim 
the honour, some one hoisted a white flag. As soon as he 
*heard of it, Qeneral Faure, Marshal MacMahon's Chief of 
the Staff, ascended the citadel and cut down a signal so 
irritating to his feelings ; but no one told the Emperor that 
his solitary, independent, and Imperial action, since he 
joined the Army of Chalons as a fugitive, had been thus 
irreverently contemned. " Why does this useless struggle 
still go on ? ** he said to Qeneral Lebrun, who entered his 
presence some time before three o'clock. '' Too much blood 
has been shed. An hour ago I directed the white flag to 


be hoisted in order to demand an armistice.*' The General 
politely explained that other forms were necessary — ^the 
Commander-in-Chief must sign a letter and send a proper 
officer, a trumpeter, and a man bearing a white flag, to the 
chief of the enemy. Lebrun drew out such a form, and 
started forth. Faure, who had just pulled down the white 
flag, would not look at it ; De Wimpffen, seeing Lebrun 
ride up followed by a horseman who carried a rag on a 
pole, shouted out, '' I will not have a capitulation ; drop 
that flag ; I shall go on fighting ; and then ensued their 
adventures about Balan, which have been described. When 
liebrun had gone, Ducrot, and subsequently Douay, visited 
the Emperor. Ducrot found the interior of the fortress in 
a state which he qualifies as " indescribable." " The streets, 
the squares, the gates were choked up with carts, carriages, 
guns, the impedimenta and debris of a routed Army. 
Bands of soldiers, without arms or knapsacks, streamed in 
every moment, and hurried into the houses and churches. 
At the gates many were trodden to death." Those who 
preserved some remains of vigour exhaled their wrath in 
curses, and shouted "We have been betrayed, sold by 
traitors and cowards." The Emperor stiU wondered why 
the action went on, and rejected Ducrot's suggestion of a 
sortie at night as futile. He wished to stop the slaughter ; 
but he could not prevail on Ducrot to sign any letter. 
Douay at first appeared disposed to accept the burden, but 
De FaiUy or Lebrun induced him to revoke his consent by 
remarking that it entailed the duty of fixing his name to 
a capitulation. General de Wimpffen sent in his resigna- 
tion, which, as the Emperor could not induce one of the 
other generals to take his place, was absolutely refused. 
The shells were bursting in the garden of the Sub-Prefec- 
ture, in the hospitals, the streets, and among the houses, 
some of which were set on fire. Li these dire straits the 


Emperor at length resolved that the white flag should be 
again unfurled, and should, this time, remain aloft in the 
sunshine. Meantime, as evident signs indicating a desire 
to negotiate had appeared at various points, and as the 
white flag surmounted the citadel, the King directed 
Colonel Bronsart von Schellendorf and Captain von Win- summon the place to capitulate. When Bron- 
sart intimated to the Commandant of Torcy that he bore a 
summons to the Commander-in-Chief, he was conducted 
to the Sub-Prefecture, " where," says the official narrative, 
"he found himself face to face with the Emperor Na- 
poleon, whose presence in Sedan imtil that moment had 
been unkown at the German head-quarters." The arrival 
of the Prussian officer seems to have occurred just as the 
Emperor finished writing a letter to the King destined to 
become famous. But he answered Bronsart's request that 
an officer fully empowered to treat should be sent to the 
German head-quarters, by remarking that General de 
WimpfEen commanded the Army. Thereupon, Colonel 
Bronsart departed, bearing a weighty piece of intelligence 
indeed, but no efEective reply; and soon afterwards General 
Eeille, intrusted with the Imperial letter, rode out of the 
gate of Torcy and ascended the hill whence the King had 
witnessed the battle. 

King William and his Warriora. 
An eminence, selected by the Staff because it commanded 
an extensive view, rises a little south of Frenois— the site 
has been marked on the map with a small pyramid — ^and 
upon this, about seven o'clock, just as the fog was lifting, 
King William took his stand. When the mists vanished, 
the sun poured his dazzling splendour over the landscape, 
and the air was so lucid that everything could be seen dis- 

CHAP. Xni.] SEDAN, 821 

tdnctlj through a powerful field-glass. "The sun shone 
out in full power/' says Prince Bibesco. " The sun was 
exceedingly powerful," writes Dr. Bussell. " The day had 
become so clear '' — ^he is writing of the same period as the 
Prince — " that through a good glass the movements of in- 
dividual men were plainly discernible." And, a little 
earlier, he says, " on the hills, through wood and garden/' 
he was looking towards the Givonne, ** and in the valleys, 
bayonets glistened, and arms twinkled and flashed like 
a streamlet in moonlight." And so it continued to the 
end. "The hills of the battlefield," writes Jh. Moritz 
Busch, " the gorge in its midst, the villages, the houses 
and the towers of the fortress, the suburb of Torcy, the 
ruined [railway] bridge to the left in the distance, shone 
bright in the evening glow, and their details became clearer 
every minute, as if one were looking through stronger and 
stronger spectacles." Through such a rich and transparent 
atmosphere the King gazed from his height upon the city 
wherein Turenne was bom, in September, 1611, and on the 
battle which has made the little town on the Meuse, which 
Yauban fortified, still more memorable. A glimpse of the 
group on the hill is fortunately afforded by Dr. Bussell, 
whose keen eyes on a battlefield seem to overlook nothing. 
** Of the King, who was dressed in his ordinary uniform, 
tightly buttoned and strapped," it is noted that he " spoke 
but little, pulled his moustache frequently, and addressed 
a word to Von Moltke, Boon, or Podbielski," who looked 
X frequently through a large telescope mounted on a tripod. 
"Moltke," he goes on, and the touch is characteristic, 
" when not looking through the glass or at the map, stood 
:■ in a curious musing attitude, with his right hand to the 
; side of his face, the elbow resting on the left hand crossed 
i towards his hip." A picture of Von Moltke, which, taken 
; with what another observer calls his " refined and wrinkled 


face," deserves to live in the memory. Count Bismarck, 
we are told, "in his white cuirassier flat cap with the 
yellow band and uniform, stood rather apart, smoking a 
good deal, and chatting occasionally with a short, thick-set, 
soldierly-looking man in the undress uniform of a United 
States' Lieutenant-G^eneraL" It was Sheridan. And near 
these were many less famous personages, but representa- y 
tive of " all Q-ermany," as one writer puts it. On another 
hill a little further west, whither Dr. Eussell transferred 
himself, was a second and notable group, which he sketches. 
" The Crown Prince with his arms folded, and his flat cap, 
uniform frock, and jack boots ; Blumenthal so spruce and 
trim ; half-a-dozen princes and many aides-de-camp " were 
all sharply and well-defined on the sky-line. - Thus these 
two groups, " from mom to dewy eve," looked down, on, 
and into a scene which nature and man had combined to 
make at once beautiful and sublime. 

It was towards the King's hill that General Eeille turned 
when he rode out of the Torcy gate. Walking his horse up 
the steep, he dismounted, and taking off his cap, presented 
a letter to his Majesty. King William, breaking the Ini- 
. perial seal, read these phrases, which, if somewhat dramatic, 
are striking in their brevity : — ^ 

Monsieur mon Frfere, 

N'ayant pu mourir au milieu de mes troupes, il 

ne me reste qu' k remettre mon epee entre les mains de 

Votre Majesty. 

Je suis de Votre Majesty, 

le bon Frfere, 

S6dan, le l^ Septembre, 1870. 

^ <*Not having been able to die in the midst of my troops, 
nothing remains for me but to place my sword in the hands of your 


Only one half hour earlier had Colonel Bronsart brought 
the startling information that the Emperor was in Sedan ! 
The King conferred with his son, who had been hastily 
summoned, and with others of his trusty servants, all 
deeply moved by complex emotions at the grandeur of their 
victory. What should be done ? The Emperor spoke for 
himself only, and his surrender would not settle the great 
issue. It was necessary to obtain something definite, and 
the result of a short conference was that Count Hatzfeldt, 
instructed by the Chancellor, retired to draft a reply, 
"After some minutes he brought it," writes Dr. Busch, 
" and the King wrote it out, sitting on one chair, while the 
seat of a second was held up by Major von Alten, who 
knelt on one knee and supported the chair on the other." 
The King's letter, brief and business-like, began and 
ended with the customary royal forms, and ran as follows: 

"Eegretting the circumstances in which we meet, I 
accept your Majesty's sword, and beg that you will be 
good enough to name an officer furnished with full powers 
to treat for the capitulation of the Army which has fought 
so bravely under your orders. On my side I have design- 
ated General von Moltke for that purpose." 

Gtenera^ Beille returned to his master, and as he rode 
down the hill the astounding purport of his visit flew from 
lip to lip through' the exulting Army which now hoped 
that, after this colossal success, the days of ceaseless march- 
ing and fighting would soon end. As a contrast to this 
natural outburst of joy and hope we may note the provi- 
dent Moltke, who was always resolved to "mak siker." 
His general order, issued at once, suspending hostilities 
during the night, declared that they would begin again in 
the morning should the negotiations produce no result. 
In that case, he said, the signal for battle would be the re- 
opening of fire by the batteries on the heights east of 


Fr^noifl. The return of peace, so fenrenilj desired bj the 
Armj, was still iaa oft in the distance when the tired 
yictors biTouacked in quiet, and dreamed of home through 
the short summer night. 

How the OeneraU Bated each other. 
While General Beille, who performed his part with so 
much modesty and dignity, rode back oyer the Mouse, the 
Emperor still awaited, in the Sub-Prefecture, the adyent 
of General de Wimpffen, who was fretting and fuming at 
the €k>lden Cross within the walls. According to his own 
confession he had become couTinced that the refusal of his 
sovereign to head a sally from Balan had deliyered over 
the Army to the mercy of the Germans, and violent despair 
had taken possession of his soul. For had not the Comte 
de Palikao sent him to overbear Napoleon ILL and the set 
who surrounded him, and had he not failed to bend the 
monarch to his will ? Twice, he repeats, with pride, " I 
obstinately refused to obey ** the Emperor's invitation to 
treat with the enemy; and because Napoleon IIL had 
authoritatively interfered with his command he sent in 
that letter of resignation which the Emperor refused to 
accept. At first he seemed inclined to resist as well as 
resent the conduct of his master, who had presumed to 
consult others and, by hoisting the white flag, to take, as 
the General haughtily says, " a decision contraiy to my 
will." Let the Emperor sign the capitulation. Such were 
the first thoughts of a man whose temper was imperious, 
but whose better nature was not insensible to reason. He 
quelled his wrath and threw off his despair, moved, as he 
says, by the feeling that in defending the interests of the 
Army he would be rendering a last service to his brave 
companions in arms/ and to his country. So he went from 

CHAP. Xin.] SEDAN. 325 

the Golden Cross to tlie Sub-Prefecture. Still angry, he 
loudly asserted as soon as he entered the room that he had 
been vanquished in battle because, addressing the Emperor, 
** your Generals refused to obey me." Thereupon Ducrot 
started up, exclaiming, " Do you mean me ? Your orders 
were only too well obeyed, and your mad presumption has 
brought on this frightful disaster." " If I am incapable," 
retorted De Wimpffen, " all the more reason why I should 
not retain the command." " You took it this morning," 
shouted Ducrot, also a violent man, *' when you thought it 
would bring honour and profit. You cannot lay it down 
BOW. You alone must bear (endosser) the shame of the 
capitulation." " Le General Ducrot ^tait trJs exalte," he 
says in his narrative, and he calls on his brother officers 
who were present to testify that he used these brave words, 
which, in substance, appear in De Wimpffen's account; 
but the latter adds that he threw back the accusation, say- 
ing, " I took the command to evade a defeat which your 
movement wotdd have precipitated ; " and that he requested 
General Ducrot to leave the room, as he had not come to 
confer with him! What the quiet and well-mannered 
Emperor thought of his two fiery and blustering Generals 
is nowhere stated. The calm language in the pamphlet 
attributed to Napoleon IIL, which shows, nevertheless, 
how deeply he was vexed by De Wimpffen's selfish wish to 
shirk his responsibilities at such a moment, takes no note 
of the quarrel, and simply tells us how '' the General under* 
stoSJmat, having commanded during the battle, his duty 
obliged him not to desert his post in circumstances so 
critical." Thus, when General Beille returned with King 
William's letter, he found De Wimpffen in a reasonable 
frame of mind and ready to perform, with courage and 
^dress, the hard task of obtaining the best terms he could 
for the French Army from the placidly stem Yon Moltke, 


in whose heart there were no soft places when business 
had to be done. 

The Oenerah Meet at Danckery. 
Late on the evening of September 1st a momentous 
session was held in Donchery, the little town which com- 
mands a bridge over the Mease below Sedan. On one 
side of a square table covered with red baize sat General 
von Moltke, having on his right hand the Quartermaster- 
General von Podbielski, according to one account, and Yon 
Blumenthal according to another, and behind them several 
officers, while Count von Nostitz stood near the hearth to 
take notes. - Opposite to Von Moltke sat De Wimpffen 
alone ; while in rear, *' almost in the shade," were General 
Faure, Count Castelnau, and other Frenchmen , among 
whom was a Cuirassier Captain d'Orcet, ^ho had observant 
eyes and a retentive memory. Then there ensued a brief 
silence, for Yon Moltke looked straight before him and 
said nothing, while De Wimpffen, oppressed by the number 
present, hesitated to engage in a debate ** with the two men 
admitted to be the most capable of our age, each in his 
kind." But he soon plucked up courage, and frankly 
accepted the conditions of the combat. What terms, be 
asked, would the King of Prussia grant to a valiant Army 
which, could he have had his will, would have continued to 
fight? "They are very simple," answered Yon Moltke. 
" The entire Army, with arms and baggage, must surrender 
as prisoners of war." " Yery hard," replied the French- 
man. "We merit better treatment. Could you not be 
satisfied with the fortress and the artillery, and allow the 
Army to retire with arms, flags and baggage, on condition 
of serving no more against Germany during the war?'* 
No. "Moltke," said Bismarck recounting the interview. 


" coldly persisted in his demand/' or as the attentive 
D'Orcet puts it, "Von Moltke was pitiless." Then De 
Wimpffen tried to soften his grim adversary by painting 
his own position. He had just come from the depths of 
the African desert ; he had an irreproachable military re- 
putation ; he had taken command in the midst of a battle, 
and found himself obliged to set his name to a disastrous 
capitulation. " Can you not," he said, " sympathize with 
an officer in such a plight, and soften, for me, the bitter- 
ness of my situation by granting more honourable condi- 
tions ? " He painted in moving terms his own sad case, 
and described what he might have done ; but seeing that 
his personal pleadings were unheeded, he took a tone of 
defiance, less likely to prevail. "K you will not give 
better terms," he went on, " I shall appeal to the honour of 
the Army, and break out, or, at least, defend Sedan." 
Then the Grerman General struck in with emphasis, "I 
regret that I cannot do what you ask," he said ; " but as 
to making a sortie, that is just as impossible as the defence 
of Sedan. You have some excellent troops, but the greater 
part of your infantry is demoralized. To-day,, during the 
battle, we captured more than twenty thousand unwounded 
prisoners. You have only eighty thousand men left. My 
troops and guns around the town would smash yours be- 
fore they could make a movement ; and as to defending 
Sedan, you have not provisions for eight-and-forty hours, 
nor ammunition which would suffice for that period." 
Then, says De Wimpffen, he entered into details respecting 
our situation, which, " unfortunately, were too true," and 
he offered to permit an officer to verify his statements, an 
offer which the Frenchman did not then accept. 

Beaten off the military ground, De Wimpffen sought re- 
fuge in politics. " It is your interest, from a political stand- 
point, to grant us honourable conditions," he said. " France 


is generous and chiyalric, responsive to generosity, and grate- 
ful for consideration. A peaoe, based on conditions which 
would flatter the amour-propre of the Army, and diminiA 
the bitterness of defeat, would be durable ; whereas rigorous 
measures would awaken bad passions, and, perhaps, bring 
on an endless war between France and Prussia." The new 
ground broken called up Bismarck, ** because the matter 
seemed to belong to my province," he observed when tell- 
ing the story ; and he was very outspoken as usual. " I 
said to him that we might build on the gratitude of a 
prince, but certainly not on the gratitude of a people — 
least of all on the gratitude of the French. That in France 
neither institutions nor circumstances were enduring ; that 
governments and dynasties were constantly changing, and 
the one need not carry out what the other had bound itself 
to do. That if the Emperor had been firm on his throne, 
his gratitude for our granting good conditions might have 
been counted upon ; but that as things stood it would be 
folly if we did not make full use of our success. That 
the French were a nation full of envy and jealousy, that 
they had been much mortified by our success at Eoniggratz, 
and could not forgive it, though it in nowise damaged them. 
How, then, should any magnanimity on our side move 
them not to bear us a grudge for Sedan. This Wimp^en 
would not admit. " France," he said, " had much changed 
latterly ; it had learned under the Empire to think more 
of the interests of peace than of the glory of war. France 
was ready to proclaim the fraternity of nations ; and more 
of the same kind." Captain d'Orcet reports that, in 
addition, Bismarck denied that France had changed, and 
that to curb her mania for glory, to punish her pride, her 
aggressive and ambitious character, it was imperative that 
there should be a glacis between France and Germany. 
"We must have territory, fortresses, and frontiers which 


will shelter us for ever from an attack on her part." 
Further remonstrances from De Wimpffen only drew down 
fresh showers of rough speech very trying to bear, and 
when Bismarck said ** We cannot change our conditions," 
De Wimpffen exclaimed, ** Very well ; it is equally impos- 
sible for me to sign such a capitulation, and we shall renew 
the battle." 

Here Count Castelnau interposed meekly to say, on 
behalf of the Emperor, that he had surrendered, personally, 
in the hope that his self-sacrifice would induce the King to 
grant the Army honourable terms. '' Is that all ? " Bis- 
marck inquired. ** Yes," said the Frenchman. " But what 
is the sword surrendered," asked the Chancellor ; " is it his 
own sword, or the sword of France ? " " It is only the 
sword of the Emperor," was Casteluau's reply. " Well, 
there is no use talking about other conditions," said Yon 
Moltke, sharply, while a look of contentment and gratifica- 
tion passed over his face, according to Bismarck; one 
*' almost joyful," writes the keen Captain d'Orcet. " After 
the last words of Yon Moltke," he continues, " De Wimpffen 
exclaimed, * We shall renew the battle.' * The truce,' re. 
torted the German General, ' expires to-morrow morning at 
four o'clock. At four, precisely, I shall open fire.' We 
were all standing. After Yon Moltke's words no one spoke 
a syllable. The silence was icy." But then Bismarck in- 
tervened to sooth excited feelings, and called on his soldier 
comrade to show, once more, how impossible resistance had 
become. The group sat down again at the red baize- 
covered table, and Yon Moltke began his demonstration 
afresh. " Ah," said De Wimpffen, " your positions are not 
so strong as you would have us believe them to be." " You 
do not know the topography of the coimtry about Sedan," 
was Yon Moltke's true and crushing answer. " Here is a 
bizarre detail which illustrates the presumptuous and in- 


consequent character of your people," he went on, now 
thoroughly aroused. " When the war began you supplied 
your officers with maps of G-ermany at a time when they 
could not study the geography of their own country for 
want of French maps. I tell you that our positions are 
not only very strong-, they are inexpugnable." It was then 
that De Wimpffen, unable to reply, wished to accept the 
offer made, but not accepted at an earlier period, and to 
send an officer to verify these assertions. " You will send 
nobody," exclaimed the iron General. '' It is useless, and 
you can believe my word. Besides, you have not long to 
reflect. It is now midnight ; the truce ends at four o'clock, 
and I will grant no delay." Driven to his last ditch, De 
Wimpffen pleaded that he must consult his fellow-Generals, 
and he could not obtain their opinions by four o'clock. Once 
more the diplomatic peacemaker intervened, and Von Moltke 
agreed to fix the final limit at nine. '' He gave way at last," 
says Bismarck, *' when I showed him that it could do no 
harm." The conference so dramatic broke up, and each 
one went his way ; but, says the German official narrative, 
" as it was not doubtful that the hostile Army, completely 
beaten and nearly surrounded, would be obliged to submit 
to the clauses already indicated, the Great Head-quarter 
StafE was occupied, that very night, in drawing up the text 
of the capitulation " a significant and practical comment, 
showing what stuff there was behind the severe language 
which, at the midnight meeting, fell from the Chief of that 
able tuid sleepless body of chosen men. 


Napoleon III. Surrenders, 
General de Wimpffen went straight from the military- 
conference to the wearied Emperor who had gone to bed. 
But he received his visitor, who told him that the proposed 

CHAP. Xin.] SEDAN. 881 

conditions were hard, and that the sole chance of mitiga- 
tion lay in the efforts of His Majesty. " General," said 
the Emperor, ** I shall start at five o'clock for the German 
head-qnarters, and I shall see whether the King will be 
inore favourable ; " for he seems to have become possessed 
of an idea that King William would personally treat with 
him. The Emperor kept his word. Believing that he 
would be. permitted to return to Sedan, he drove forth 
without bidding farewell to any of his troops ; but, as the 
drawbridge of Torcy was lowered and he passed over, the 
Zouaves on duty shouted " Vive TEmpereur ! " This cry 
was " the last adieu which fell on his ears " as we read in 
the narrative given to the world on his behalf. He drove 
in a droshki towards Donchery, preceded by General Eeille 
who, before six o'clock, awoke Count Bismarck from his 
slumbers, and warned him that the Emperor desired to 
speak with him. ** I went with him directly," said Bis- 
marck, in a conversation reported by Busch ; " and got on 
my horse, all dusty and dirty as I was, in an old cap and 
my great waterproof boots, to ride to Sedan where I sup- 
posed him to be." But he met him on the high road near 
Fr^nois, "sitting in a two-horse carriage." Beside him 
was the Prince de la Moskowa, and on horseback Castlenau 
and Beille. " I gave the military salute," says Bismarck. 
■** He took his cap off and the of&cers did the same ; where- 
upon I took off mine, although it was contrary to rule. He 
said, * Couvrez-vous, done' I behaved to him just as if in 
St. Cloud, and asked his commands." Naturally, he 
waited to see the King, but that could not be allowed. 
Then Bismarck placed his quarters in Donchery at the 
Emperor's disposal, but he, thinking, as we know, that he 
,would return to the Sub-Prefecture, declined the courtesy, 
and preferred to rest in a house by the wayside. The 
cott-age of a Belgian weaver unexpectedly became famous ; 


p one-storied house, painted yellow, with white shutters and 
Venetian blinds. He and the Chancellor entered the house, 
and went up to the first floor where there was "a little 
room with one window. It was the best in the house, but 
had only one deal table and two rush-bottomed chairs/* 
In that lowly abode they talked together of many things 
for three-quarters of an hour, among others about the 
origin of the war which, it seems, neither desired, the 
Emperor asserting, Bismarck reports that ** he had been 
driven into it by the pressure of public opinion," a very 
inadequate representation of the curious incidents which 
preceded the fatal decision. But when the Emperor began 
to ask for more favourable terms, he was told that, on a 
military question, Yon Moltke alone could speak. On the 
other hand Bismarck's request to know who now had 
authority to make peace was met by a reference to " the 
Government in Paris;" so that no progress was made. 
Then ** we must stand to our demands with regard to the 
Army of Sedan," said Bismarck. G(eneral von Moltke was 
summoned, and ** Napoleon III. demanded that nothing 
should be decided before he had seen the King, for he 
hoped to obtained from His Majesty some favourable con* 
cessions for the Army." The German of&cial narrative of 
the war states that the Emperor expressed a wish that the 
Army might be permitted to enter Belgium, but that, of 
course, the Chief of the Staff could not accept the proposal. 
General von Moltke forthwith set out for Yendresse where 
the King was, to report progress. He met His Majesty on 
the road, and there " the King fully approved the proposed 
conditions of capitulation, and declared that he would not 
see the Emperor until the terms prescribed had been ac- 
cepted ; '' a decision which gratified the Chancellor as well 
as the Chief of the Staff. ** I did not wish them to come 
together," observed the Count, ** until we had settled the 


matter of the capitulation ; " sparing the feelings of both 
and leaving the business to the hard military men. 

The Emperor lingered about in the garden of the weaver's 
cottage ; he seems to have desired fresh air after his un- 
pleasant talk with the Chancellor. Dr. Moritz Busch, who 
had hurried to the spot, has left a characteristic description 
of the Emperor. He saw there " a little thick-set man/' 
wearing jauntily a red cap with a gold border, a black 
palet6t lined with red, red trousers, and white kid gloves, 
" The look in his light grey eyes was somewhat soft and 
(dreamy, like that of people who have lived hard. His 
whole appearance,*' says the irreverent Busch, " was a little 
unsoldierlike. The man looked too soft, I might say too 
shabby, for the uniform he wore," phrases which suggest a 
lack of sympathy with adversity, and severe physical as 
well as mental sufTering. But imagination can realize a 
picture of the fallen potentate, whose dynasty, crashing 
down, drew so much with it, as he was seen by the cynical 
Gkrman, talking to his officers, or to the burly Chancellor, 
or walking alone up and down a potato field in flower, 
with his white-gloved hands behind his back, smoking a 
cigarette ; ** betrayed by fortune " or fate, as he believed, 
but pursued, as others might say, by the natural conse- 
quences of his marvellous adventures, and of a strange 
neglect of the one source of strength on which he relied, 
the Army. He had failed in the business upon the conduct 
of which he prided himself ; he was a bankrupt Emperor. 

. The French OeneraU Svhmit 

While one scene in the stupendous drama was performed 

at the weaver's cottage, another was acted or endured in 

Sedan, where De Wimpffen had summoned the generals to 

consider the dreadful terms of capitulation. He has given 


his own account of the incident ; but the fullest report is 
supplied by Lebrun. There were present at this council of 
war more than thirty generals. With tearful eyes and a 
Toice broken by sobs, the unhappy and most ill-starred De 
Wimpffen described his interriew and conflict with Yon 
Moltke and Bismarck, and its dire result — the Army to sur« 
render as prisoners of war, the officers alone to retain their 
arms, and by way of mitigating the rigour of these con- 
ditions, full i)ermission to return home would be given to 
any officer, provided he would engage in writing and on 
honour not to serve again during the war. The generals, 
save one or two, and these finally acquiesced, felt that the 
conditions could not be refused ; but they were indignant 
at the clause suggesting that the 6fficers might escape the 
captivity which would befall their soldiers, provided they 
would engage to become mere spectators of the invasion of 
their country. In the midst of these mournful deliberations 
Captain von Zingler, a messenger from Yon Moltke, entered, 
and the scene became still more exciting. "I am in* 
structed," he said, " to remind you how urgent it is that 
you should come to a decision. At ten o'clock, precisely, if 
you have not come to a resolution, the German batteries 
will fire on Sedan. It is now nine, and I shall have barely 
time to carry your answer to head-quarters." To this sharp 
summons De Wimpffen answered that he could not decide 
until he knew the result of the interview between the 
Emperor and the King." " That interview," said the stem 
Captain, " will not in any way affect the military operations, 
which can only be determined by the generals who have full 
power to resume or stop the strife." It was, indeed, as 
Lebrun remarked, useless to argue with a Captain, charged 
to state a fact ; and at the General's suggestion De Wimpffen 
agreed to accompany Captain von Zingler to the German 
head-quarters. ^ 


These were, for the occasion, the Chateau de Bellevue, 
where the Emperor himself had been induced to take up 
Lis abode, and about eleven o'clock, in a room under the 
Imperial chamber, De Wimpffen put his name at the foot of 
the document drawn up, during the night, by the German 
StafE. Then he sought out the Emperor, and, greatly 
moved, told him that " all was finished." His Majesty, he 
writes, "with tears in his eyes, approached me, pressed my 
hand, and embraced me ;'* and "my sad and painful duty 
having been accomplished, I remounted my horse and rode 
back to Sedan, ' la mort dans Tame.' " 

So soon as the convention was signed, the King arrived, 
accompanied by the Crown Prince. Three years before, as 
the Emperor reminds us in the writing attributed to him, 
the King had been his guest in Paris, where all the sover- 
eigns of Europe had come to behold the marvels of the 
famous Exhibition. " Now," so runs the lamentation, 
** betrayed by fortune, Napoleon III. had lost all, and had 
placed in the hands of his conqueror the sole thing left 
him — ^his liberty." And he goes on to say, in general 
terms, that the King deeply sympathized with his mis- 
fortunes, but nevertheless could not grant better conditions 
to the Army. " He told the Emperor that the castle of 
Wilhelmshohe had been selected as his residence; the Crown 
Prince then entered and cordially shook hands with 
Napoleon ; and at the end of a quarter of an hour the King 
withdrew. The Emperor was permitted to send a telegram 
in cipher to the Empress, to tell her what had happened, 
and urge her to negotiate a peace." Such is the bald 
record of this impressive event. The telegram, which 
reached the Empress at four o'clock on the afternoon of the 
3rd, was in these words: "The Army is defeated and 
captive ; I myself am a prisoner." 

For one day more the fallen sovereign rested at Bellevue 


to meditate an the caprices of fortune or tlie decrees of 
fate« Bot that daj, at the head of a splendid compaDj <^ 
princes and generaUi, King William, crossing the bridge of 
Doncherj, rode thronghoot the whole vast extent of the 
Oerman lines, to greet his hardj warriors and be greeted 
by them on the very scene of their victories. And well 
thej desenred regal gratitade, for together with their com- 
rades who surrounded Metz, by dint of long swift maurches 
and steadfast valour, they had overcome two great Armies 
in thirty days. 

During the battle of Sedan, the Germans lost in killed 
and wounded 8,924 officers and men. On the other hand, 
the French lost 8,000 killed, 14,000 wounded, and 21,000 
captured in the battle. The number of prisoners by 
capitulation was 83,000, while 8,000 were disarmed in 
liolgium, and a few hundreds, more or less, made their way 
by devious routes near and over the frontier, to M^zieres, 
Bocroi, and other places in France. In addition, were taken 
one eagle and two flags, 419 field guns and mitrailleuses, 
189 garrison guns, many wagons, muskets, and horses. 
On the day after the surrender, the French soldiers, having 
stacked their arms in Sedan, marched into the peninsula 
formed by the deep loop of the Meuse — "le Camp de 
Misire*' as thev called it — and were sent thence in sue- 
ot^ssive batches, numbered by thousands, to Germany. Such 
was the astonishing end of the Army of Chalons, which 
had been impelled to its woful doom by the Comte de 
Palikao and the Paris politicians. IHrected by GeneraL 
Vinoy» who was an able soldier, the troops brought to 
MtSai^res, escaped by rapid and clever marches from the 
German cavalry and the 6th Corps, and formed the 
nucleus of the improvised Army whidi afterwards defended 
the capital* 


The End. 

On the 3rd of September the Emperor Napoleon III. 
departed from Bellevue on his journey to the Castle of 
Wilhelmshohe, near Cassel. The morning was wet and 
gloomy, and a thunderstorm was gathering among the 
hills of the Ardennes. The Imperial baggage-train had 
been permitted to leave Sedan, and was drawn up on the 
road ready to start. Columns of prisoners also were 
moving out of the fortress and marching towards the 
peninsula formed by the Mouse. It was a lugubrious 
scene, and the superstitious might remark that as the sun 
shone resplendently on the Q-erman victory, so his light 
was obscured when the captive Emperor drove through the 
muddy streets of Donchery and thence to the northward, 
wrapped in the sombre mist and thickly falling rain. And 
as he journeyed, disconsolately, in the forenoon, upon the 
road to Bouillon, orders went forth from the German head- 
quarters, where time was never lost, directing the conquer- 
ing generals to leave the 11th and one Bavarian Corps 
on guard over Sedan and the thousands of unhappy 
prisoners, and resume, with all the rest, that march on the 
capital of France which had been so abruptly interrupted 
only eight days before. So the victors and the vanquished 
went their different ways. 

The Emperor travelled without haste, and on the evening 
of the 4th he slept at Verviers. The next morning he 
learned, in common with all Europe, indeed all the civilized 
world, that the fires which seethe under the bright surface 
of society in Paris had once more burst through the thin 
crust of use and wont, and that the dynasty of the 
Bonapartes had been utterly overthrown at a blow to make 
way for the Eepublic. Like iutelligence reached the King 
of Prussia, also, at his head-quarters, which, on the 5th, 



were already in Beims. The contrast is painful. The 
King saw his hopes of an early peace destroyed ; hut his 
was a solidly planted throne and he was the leader of 
irresistible armies. The Emperor knew that his fond 
dream of founding an Imperial House had been dispelled 
in an hour by a blast of national wrath; and, being a 
kindly man, his agony was the keener because, as he 
pathetically says, "he was separated from his son, and 
knew not what fate had befallen the Empress." Backed 
by such sad reflections, at the very time when his wife was 
escaping to England, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte went, by 
railway, from Verviers to Wilhelmshohe. There, during a 
luxurious captivity of six months, he had ample leisure to 
meditate on the causes which led to the catastrophe of 
Sedan and the surrender of Metz ; and to ascertain, if he 
could, why, after a second trial, ending in the third entry 
of hostile troops into Paris, the French nation had lost its 
belief in the saving qualities of a family bearing a name 
which, if associated with undying "glory," has also become 
indissolubly linked with bitter memories of lost provinces 
and giganiic military disasters* 



Commandeb-in-Chiev, King William of Pbttsbia; 
Cliief of the StafE, General Baron you Moltke; Quarter- 
master, General Podbielski; Inspector-General of Artillery, 
General von Hindersin. 

Present with the Great Head Quarters were the Minister 
of War, General von Eoon; and the Federal Chancellor 
and Minister President, General Connt von Bismarck- 

FiBST Abmy. 

Commandeb-in-Chief, General von Steinmetz ; Chief of 
the Staff, Gen. von Sperling ; Chief Quartermaster, CoL 
Count von Wartensleben. 

First Corps} 

Commandeb-in-Chief, General Baron von Manteuffel; 

Chief of the StafF, Lieut.-Col. von der Burg. 1st Div., 

Lieut.-Gen. von Bentheim; 1st Brig., Major-Gen. von 

Guyl ; 2nd Brig., Major-Gen. Baron von Falkenstein. 2nd 

^ This Corpfi did not arrive until August 5 


Div., Major-Gkn. von Pritzelwitz ; 3rd Brig., Major-Gen. 
Yon Memertj; 4th Brig., Major-Gbn. von Zglintski; 
Commander of Artillery, Major-Gen. von Bergemaan. 

Strength of Corps: 25 battalions, 25,000 men; 8 
squadrons, 1,200 horses; 14 batteries, 84 guns; 3 com- 
panies of Pioneers. 

Seventh Corps, 

Commandbb-in-Chief, General von Zastrow; Chief of 
the Staff, Col. yon Unger. 13th Div., lieut.-Gen. Ton 
Glumer ; 25th Brig., Major-Gen. Baron yon Osten-Sacken ; 
26th Brig., Major-Gen. Baron yon Golz. 14th Div., Lieut.-» 
General yon Kameke; 27th Brig., Major-Gen. yon Fran9oi8; 
28th Brig., Major-Gen. yon Wojna; Commander of 
Artillery, Major-Gen. yon Zimmermann. 

Strength of Corps: 25 battalions, 25,000 men; 8 
squadrons, 1,200 horses; 14 batteries, 84 guns; and 3 
companies of Pioneers. 

Eighth Corps. 

Commandbb-ik-Chief, General yon Goeben; Chief of 
the Staff, Col. yon Witzendorff. 15th Diy., lieut.-G^n. 
yon Weltzien ; 29th Brig., Major-G«n. yon Wedell ; 30th 
Brig., Major-Gen. yon Strubberg. 16th Diy., Lieut.- 
Gen. Bamekow ; 31st, Major-Gen. Count Neidhard yon 
Gneisenau ; 32nd, CoL yon Eex ; Commander of Artillery, 
Colonel yon Kameke. 

Strength of Corps : 25 battalions, 25,000 men ; 8 
squadrons, 1,200 horses; 15 batteries, 90 guns; and 3 
companies of Pioneers. 

First Cavalry Division, 
CoteM ANDES, Lieut. -General yon Hartmann. Briga!diers : 
1st Brig., Major-Gen. yon Luderitz ; 2nd Brig., Major- 


Gen. Ton Baumgarth (each was composed of one Onirassier 
and two Uhlan regiments, and accompanied by a Horse 
Artillery Battery). 
' Strength : 24 squadrons, 3,600 horses, and 6 guns. 

Third Cavalry Division, 

CoMMANDBB, Lieut.-Gfen. Count von der Groben. Briga- 
diers : 6th Brig., Major-Gen. von Mirus (one Cuirassier 
and one Uhlan regiment) ; 7th Brig., Major-Gen. Count 
yon Dohna (two Uhlan regiments). 

Strength : 16 squadrons, 2,400 horses, 1 Horse Artillery 
battery, 6 guns. 

Strength of First Army, 

Battalions. Squadrons. Batteries. Guns. 

Ist Corps 25 8 14 84 

7th Corps ..... 25 8 15 90 

8th Corps 25 8 14 84 

Ist Cav. Div. .... 24 1 6 

3rd Cav. Div. .... 16 1 6 

Total .... 75 64 45 270 

The Second Abmy. 

Commander-in-Chief, H.RH. Prince Frederick Charles 
of Prussia ; Chief of Staff, Major-Qen. von Stiehle ; Chief 
Quartermaster, Colonel von Hertzberg; Commander of 
Artillery, Lieut. -G^en. von Colomier. 

The Chmrd Corps, 
Commandeb-in-Chief, Prince Augustus of Wurtem- 
berg; Chief of the Staff, Major-Gen. yon Dannenberg. 


liit Diy., Major-Qen. yon Pape ; Ist Brig., Major-Gten. von 
Eessel ; 2nd Brig., Major-Gen. Baron von Modem. 2nd 
Div., Lieat.-Gkn. von Budritzki ; 3rd Brig., Colonel Knappe 
vonKnappstadt; 4th Brig., Major-Gten. von Berger; Com- 
mander of Artillery, Major-Gen. Kraft, Prince of Hohen- 
lohe Ingelfingen. 

Cavalbt Division: — Commander, Major-G«n. Count 
von der Gk)lz ; let Brig., Major-Gen. Count von Branden- 
burg I. (Life Guards and Cuirassiers) ; 2nd Brig., Lieut.* 
Gen, Prince Albert of Prussia (two Uhlan regiments); 
8rd Brig., Lieut.-Gen. Count von Brandenburg 11. (two 
Dragoon regiments). 

Strength of Corps: 29 battalions, 29,000 men; 32 
squadrons, 4,800 horses; 15 batteries, 90 guns; and 3 
companies of Pioneers. 

Second Corps} 

Commandbb-in-Chibf, General von . Franseckj ; Chief 
of the Staff, Colonel von Wichmann; Commander of 
Artillery, Major-G«n. von Kleist. 8rd Div., Major-G^n. 
von Hartmann; 5th Brig., Major-Gen. von Koblinski; 6th 
Brig., Colonel von der Decken. 4th Div., Lieut,-Gen. 
Hann von Weihern; 7th Brig., Major-Gen. du Trossel; 
8th Brig., Major-Gten. von Eettler. 

Strength of Corps: 25 battalions, 25,000 men; 8 
squadrons, 1,200 horses; 14 batteries, 84 guns; and 3 
companies of Artillery. 

Third Corps, 
Commander-in-Chief, Lieut.-Gen. von Alvensleben II. ; 
Chief of the Staff, Colonel von Voigts-Rhetz ; Commander 

^ Came up to the front at the battle of Graveiotte. ^ 


of Artillery, Major-Gen. von Biilow. 6th Div., Lieut. - 
Gen. von Stiilpnagel ; 9tli Brig., Major-Gen. von Doring ; 
lOth Brig., Major-Gen. von Schwerin. 6th Div., Lieut.- 
Gen. Baron von Buddenbrock ; 11th Brig., Major-Gen. von 
Bothmaler ; 12th Brig., Colonel von Bismarck. 

Strength of Corps : 25 battalions, 25,000 men ; 8 
squadrons, 1,200 horses; 14 batteries, 84 guns; and 3 
companies of Pioneers. 

Fowrth Corps, 

Commandeb-in-Chief, General von Alvensleben I. ; 
Chief of the Staff, Colonel von Thile; Commander of 
Artillery, Major-Gen. von Scherbening. 7th Div., Lieut. - 
G^n. von Schwarzhoff; 13th Brig., Major-G^n. von 
Worries; 14th Brig., Major-Gten. von Zychlinski. 8th 
Div., Lieut.-Gen. von Scholer; 15th Brig., Major-Gkn. 
von Kessler ; 16th Brig., Colonel von Scheffler. 

Strength of Corps: 25 battalions, 25,000 men; 8 
squadrons, 1,200 horses ; 14 batteries, 84 guns ; and 3 
companies of Pioneers. 

Ninth Corps, 

Commandeb-in-Chief, General von Manstein ; Chief of 
the Staff, Major Bronsart von Schellendorf ; Commander 
of Artillery, Major-Gen. von Puttkammer. 18th Div., 
Lieut.-Gen. Baron von Wrangel ; 35th Brig., Major-Gen. 
von Blumenthal ; 36th Brig., Major-Gen. von Below. The 
Hessian Division (25th) : Commander, Lieut.-Gen. H.B.H, 
Prince Louis of Hesse;. 49th Brig., Major-Gen. von 
Wittich ; 50th Brig., Colonel von Lyncker. 

Strength of Corps: 23 battaHons, 23,000 men; 12 
squadrons, 1,800 horses; 15 batteries, 90 guns; 3 com- 
panies of Pioneers, 


Tenth Corps. 

Oommandeb-in-Chief, (General von Yoigts-Bhetz ; Chief 
of the Staff, Iiieut.-Ool. von Capriyi; Commander of 
Artillery, Colonel Baron von der Becke. 19th Div., Lieut.- 
Gen. von Schwarzkoppen ; 37th Brig., Colonel von Leh- 
mann; 38th Brig., Major-Gen. von Wedell. 20th Div., 
Major-Gen. Kraatz Koschlau ; 39th Brig., Major-G^en. von 
Woyna ; 40th Brig., Major-Gen. von Diringshofen. 

Strength of Corps: 25 battalions, 25,000 men; 8 
squadrons, 1,200 horses; 14 batteries, 84 guns; 3 com- 
panies of Pioneers. 

Twelfth (Boydl Saxon) Corps. 

Commakdbb-in-Chibf, General H.B.H. the Crown 
Prince of Saxony ; Chief of the Staff, Colonel von Zezsch- 
witz ; Commander of Artillery, Major-Gen. Kohler, 1st 
Div., Prince George of Saxony ; 1st Brig., Major-Q^n. von 
Craushaar; 2nd Brig., Colonel von Montb^. 2nd Div., 
Major-G^n. Nehrhoff von Holderberg ; 3rd Brig., Major- 
Gen, von Leonhardi; 4th Brig., Colonel von Schulz. 
[N.B. The Infantry Divisions were also numbered 23 and 
24^ and the brigades 45, 46, 47, and 48, to fit them into 
the general system.] 

Strength of Corps: 29 battalions, 29,000 men; 24 
squadrons, 3,600 horses; 16 batteries, 96 guns; 3 com- 
panies of Pioneers. [The Cavalry formed the 12th Division, 
commanded by the Count of Lippe; Brigadiers, Major- 
Gen. Krug von Nidda and Major-Gen. Seufft von Pilsach.] 

The Fifth Cavalry Division. 
Commander, Lieut.-Gen. Baron von Eheinbaben ; 11th 
Brig., Major-G«n. von Barby (a Cuirassier, a Uhlan, and a 


Di-agoon regiment) ; 12th Brig., Major-Gen. von Bredow 
(similarly formed) ; 13tli Brig., Major-Gen. von Eedern 
(three Hussar regiments). 

Strength of Division : 36 squadrons, 5,400 horses ; 2 
batteries, 12 guns, Horse Artillery. 

The Sixth Cavalry Division. 

OoMMANDEB, Duke William of Mecklenburg-Schwerin ; 
14th Brig., Major-Gen. Baron von Diepenbroick-Gruter (a 
Cuirassier and two Uhlan regiments) ; 15th Brig., Major- 
Gen, von Bauch (two Hussar regiments). 

Strength of Division : 20 squadrons, 3,000 horses ; and 
1 Horse Artillery battery, 6 guns. 

Strength of Second Army, 

Battalions. Squadrons. Batteries. Guns. 

Guard 29 32 15 90 

2nd Corps 25 8 14 84 

3rd Corps 25 8 14 84 

4th Corps 25 8 14 84 

9tli Corps 23 12 15 90 

10th Corps 25 8 14 84 

12th Corps 29 24 16 96 

5th Cav. Div 36 2 12 

6th Cav. Div 20 1 6 

Total • ... 181 156 105 630 

The Thied Abmy. 

Commandbe-in-Chief, H.E.H. the Crown Prince of 
Prussia ; Chief of the Staff, Lieut.-Gen. von Blumenthal ; 
Chief Quartermaster, Colonel von Gottberg ; Commander 
of Artillery, Lieut.-Gen. Herkt. 


Fifth Carps. 

Com makdeb-ik-Ghief, Lieut.-G<en. von Kirchbach ; Chief 
of the Staff, Colonel von der Esch; Commander of the 
Artillery, Colonel €kbede. 9th Div., Major-Gen. von 
Sandrart; 17th Brig., Colonel von Bothmer; 18th Brig., 
Major-Gten. von Yoigts-Bhetz. 10th Div., Lieut.-Gten. von 
Schmidt; 19th Brig., Colonel von Henning auf Schonhoff; 
20th Brig., Major-Gten. Walther von Montbarj. 

Strength of Corps ; 25 battalions, 25,000 men ; 8 squad- 
rons, 1,200 horses ; 14 batteries, 84 guns ; 3 companies of 

8ixth Corps.^ 

Commakdbb-in-Chief, General von Tumpling ; Chief of 
the Staff, Colonel von Salviati ; Commander of Artillery, 
Colonel von Bamm. 11th Div., Lieut.-G«n. von Gordon ; 
21st Brig., Major-Gen. von Malachowski; 22nd Brig., 
Major-G^n. von Eckartsberg. 12th Div., Lieut.-Glen. von 
Hoffmann; 2drd Brig., Major-GeD. Gundel ; 24th Brig., 
Major-G«n. von Fabeck. 

Strength of Corps : 25 battalions, 25,000 men ; 8 squad- 
rons, 1,200 horses, 14 batteries, 84 guns ; 3 companies of 

Eleventh Corps, 
Commandeb-in-Chief, Lieut.-G«n. von Bose ; Chief of 
the Staff, Major-Gon. Stein von Kaminski ; Commander of 
Artillery, Major-Gen. Hausmann. 21st Div., Lieut-G^n. 
von Scbachtmeyer ; 41st Brig., Colonel von Koblinski; 
42nd Brig., Major-Gen. von Thile. 22nd Div., Lieut.-Gen. 
von Gkrsdorff; 43rd Brig., Colonel von Konski; 44th 
Brig., Major.G^en. von Schkopp. 

^ This Corps did not cross the frontier until the' 6th of August. 


Strength of Corps : 25 battalions, 25,000 men ; 8 squad-* 
rons, 1,200 horses ; 14 batteries, 84 guns ; 3 companies of 

First Bavarian Corps, 

Commandbb-in-Chief, General von der Tann-Eathsam- 
hausen ; Chief of the Staff, Lieut.-Col. von Heinleth ; Com- 
mander of Artillery, Major-Gen. von Malais^. 1st Div., 
Lieut.-Gten von Stephan ; 1st Brig., Major-Gen. Dietl ; 2nd 
Brig., Major-Gen. von Orff. 2nd Div., Major-Gen. 
Schumaker ; 3rd Brig., Colonel Hejle ; 4th Brig., Major* 
Gen. Baron von der Tann. 

Strength of Corps : 25 battalions, 25,000 men ; 20 squad- 
rons, 3,000 horses (Cuirassiers and Light Horse) ; 16 
batteries, 96 guns ; 3 companies of Pioneers. 

Second Bavarian, Corps. 
- Comkandes-in-Chief, General Bitter von Hartmann ; 
Chief of the Staff, Colonel Baron von Horn ; Commander 
of Artillery, Major-G^n. Lutz. 3rd Div., Lieut.-G«n. von 
Walther ; 5th Brig., Major-Gen. von Schleich ; 6th Brig., 
Colonel Berries von Wissel. 4th Div., Lieut.-Gkn. Count 
von Bothmer; 7tb Brig., Major-G«n. von Thiereck; 8th 
Brig., Major-Gen. Maillinger, 

. Strength of Corps : 25 battalions, 25,000 men; 20 squad- 
rons, 3,000 horses (Cuirassier, Uhlan, Light Horse) ; 16 
batteries, 96 guns ; 3 companies of Pioneers. 

Ths Wurtemberg Division: 
Commandeb-ik-Chief, Lieut. -G^n. von Obemitz ; Chief 
of the Staff, Colonel von Bock ; Commander of Artillery, 
Colonel von Sick $ 1st Brig., Major-Gen. von Beitstenstein ; 


2nd Brig., Major-Gen. von Starkloff; 3rd Brig., Major- 
Gen. Baron von Hugel. 

Strength of Division : 15 battalions, 15,000 men ; 10 
squadrons, 1,500 horses ; 9 batteries, 54 guns ; 2 companies 
of Pioneers. 

Baden Division. 

Commandeb-in-Chief, lieut.-Gen. von Beyer ; Chief of 
the Staff, Lieut. -Col. von Leszczynski; Commander of 
Artillery, Colonel von Freydorf ; 1st Brig., Lieut.-Gen. du 
Jarrhs, Baron von la Boche ; 2nd Brig., Major-Gen. Keller. 

Strength of Division: 13 battalions, 13,000 men; 12 
squadrons, 1,800 horses ; 9 batteries, 54 guns ; 1 Pioneer 

Second OavaJry Division. * 
CoMMANDBB, Licut.-G^n. Count Stolberg-Wemigerode ; 
3rd Brig., Major-Gfen. von Colomb (two regiments. 
Cuirassier and Uhlan) ; 4th Brig., Major-Gen. Baron von 
Bamekow (two regiments of Hussars) ; 6th Brig., Major- 
Oten. von Baumbach (two regiments of Hussars). 
. Strength : 24 squadrons, 3,600 horses ; 2 Horse Artillery 
batteries, 12 guns. 

Fourth Cavalry Division, 

CoMMANDEB, General H.B.H. Prince Albrecht of Prussia, 
senior; 8th Brig., Major-Gen. von Hontheim (two regiments. 
Cuirassier and Uhlan); 9th Brig., Major-Gen. von Bem- 
hardi (two Uhlan regiments); 10th Brig., Major-GJen. von 
Krosigk (two regiments, Hussar and Dragoon). 

Strength : 24 squadrons, 3,600 horses ; 2 Horse Artillery 
batteries, 12 guns. 

^ This Division came up after the 4th of August. 



Strength of Third Army. 

5th Corps • • 
6th Corps . • 
11th Corps . • 
Ist Bavarian • 
2nd Bavarian . 
Wiirtemberg Div, 
Baden Div. 
2nd Cav. Div. 
4th Cav. Div. 

Total • 

Batt^ions. Squadrons. Batteries. 


. 153 
























Total of the Three Armies. 

BattaUoDS. Squadrons. Batteries. Guns. 
First Army .... 76 64 45 270 

Second Army ... 181 156 105 630 

Third Army. • • . 153 134 96 576 

Grand Total . 


354 246 1,476 

By the end of August the 17th Division of Infantry and 
the 2nd Division of Landwehr, under the Grand Duke of 
Mecklenburg-Schwerin, in addition to the 3rd Eeserve 
Division already on the spot under General Kunsmor, were 
brought up to take part in the investment of Metz. The 
troops sent forward to reinforce the Baden Division before 
Strasburg were the Landwehr Division of the Guard, the 
1st Eeserre Division, and the 1st brigade of reserve cavalry. 
During August, counting all ranks, sick or well, and in- 
cluding every species of non-combatant, the mean strength 
of the Armies in the field was 780,723 men, and 213,159 




Commandbb-ik-Chief, Thb Empbbob Napolbok m. ; 
" Major-General " or Cliief of the Staff, Marshal Leboeuf , 
assisted hj General Lebrun and General Jarras; Com- 
mander of Artillery, General Soleille;, of Engineers, General 
Ooffiniires de Nordeck. 

Impbbial Gvabb. 

OoMM akdbb-in-Chief, General BourbaM ; Cliief of the 
Staff, General d'Auvergne; Commander of Artillery, 
General P^ d'Arros; Divisional Commanders: 1st Div. 
(Voltigeurs), General Deligny;. Brigadiers: 1st Brig., 
General Brinoourt ; 2nd Brig., General Gtamier. 2nd Div. 
(Grenadiers), General Pieard; Brigadiers: 1st Brig., 
General Jeanningros; 2nd Brig., General le Poitevin de 

Strength of Corps: 24 battalions; 24 squadrons — 
(Desvaux's Div. of three brigades, commanded by Halna 
du Pretay, De Prance, and Du Preuil, consisting of Guides, 
Chasseurs, Lancers, Dragoons, Cuirassiers, and Carbineers) 
«— 60 guns, and 12 mitrailleuses ; 2 companies of Engineers, 

First Corps, 
Commandeb-in-Chi£f, Marshal MacMahon, Duke of 
Magenta ; Chief of the Staff, Gen. Colson ; Commander of 
Artillery, Gen. Porgeot. Divisional Commanders: 1st Div., 
Gen. Ducrot ; 1st Brig., Gen. Wolff ; 2nd Brig., Gen. de 
Postis du Houlbec. 2nd Div., Gen. Abel Douay^ 1st 


Brig., Gen. Pelletier de Montmarie ; 2nd Brig., Gen. Pell^. 
3rd Div., Gen. Eaoult ; Ist Brig., Gen. THdriller ; 2nd 
Brig., Gen. Lefebvre. 4th Div., Gen. Lartigne ; 1st Brig., 
Lieiit.-Gen. Praboulet de Kerleadec; 2nd Brig., Gen. 

Strength of Corps: 62 battalions — 45 deducting the 
regiments left in Strasbui^; 28 squadrons — Duhesme's 
brigade of Cuirassiers, Hussars, Chasseurs, Lancers, and 
Dragoons — 96 guns and 24 mitrailleuses ; 5|- companies of 

Second Corps, 

Commandbb-in-Chief, General Frossard ; Chief of the 
Staff, Gen. Saget ; Commander of Artillery, Gten. Gagneur . 
1st Div., Gen. Verg^ ; Ist Brig., Gen. Letellier Valaz^ ; 
2nd Brig., Gen. Jolivet. 2nd Div., Gen. Bataille ; 1st 
Brig., Gen. Pouget; 2nd Brig., Gen. Fauvart-Bastoul. 
3rd Div., G^n. de Laveaucoupet ; 1st Brig., Gen. Doens ; 
2nd Brig., Gen. Micheler. 

Strength of Corps : 39 battalions ; 16 squadrons — (Vala- 
br^gue's Division, 4 regiments of Chasseurs and Dragoons) 
— 72 guns, 18 mitrailleuses ; 5 companies of Engineers. 

Third Corps, 
Commandbs-ik-Chief, Marshal Bazaine; Chief of the 
Staff, G^n. Manque ; Commander of Artillery, Gen. de 
Bochebouet. 1st Div., Gen. Montaudon ; 1st Brig., Gen. 
Baron Aymard; 2nd Brig., Gen. Clinchant. 2nd Div., 
Gen. de Castagny ; 1st Brig., Gen. Nayral ; 2nd Brig., 
Otea, Duplessis. 3rd Div., Gen. Metman ; 1st Brig., Gen. 
de Potior; 2nd Brig., Gren.. AmaudeaiL 4th Div., Gen. 
Decaen; 1st Brig., Gen. de Brauer; 2nd Brig., Q^n. 


Snd Brig., Oen. de Braner; 16 sqnadixms, all 

3rd Dir., Gen. de Forion ; let Brig., Gen. Pnnoe Mnrat ; 
2nd Brig., Qen. de Gntmont ; 16 squadrons — (one brigade 
of Dragoons, the other Cninumiers) — and 12 gnns. 

Artilleiy Reserve : Gen. Cann, 126 gnns, 6 mitraiUeases, 
and 8 companies of Engineers. 

Stbbvoth ov Abmt. 

Guard • • • 






IstCorps . . 






2nd Corps • 






Skd. Corps • • 






4tiiCoips . . 






5tii Corps . . 






0th Corps • • 






7th Corps . • 






Beserye Car. • 





Reserve Art • 



332 220 154 780 144 

It is not possible to do more than guess at the numerical 
strength of the French Corps, and consequently of the 
French Army ; so great is the variation in the strength of 
battalions and squadrons. The infantry of the several 
Corps was continually augmented by the arrival of reserves, 
so that, the losses at Spicheren notwithstanding, the 2nd 
Corps was stronger by more than 2,000 men, five days after 
the battle, than it was on the morning of the 6th ; Marshal 
Leboeuf told the Parliamentaiy Commission that, on the 
Ist of August, according to the '* states '* sent in to the 
head-quarters, the effective of the Army of the Rhine, in- 
cluding all the Corps in the field, was 243,171 men. But 


Oten. Le Eoy de Dais. 2nd Div., Gen. Bisson ; Ist Brig., 
Gen. Archinard ; 2nd Brig., Gen. Maurice. 3rd Div., 
Gen. Lafont de Villers ; 1st Brig., Gen. Becquet de Sonnay ; 
2nd Brig., Gen. Colin. 4tli Div., Gen. Levassor-Sorval ; 
Ist Brig., Gen. de Marguenat; 2nd Brig., Gen. Comte de 

Strength of Corps : 49 battalions ; 24 squadrons — (Div, 
of Salignac-Fenelon, three brigades Lancers, Hussars, 
Chasseurs, and Cuimssiers) — 114 guns, 6 mitrailleuses, 
and 5 companies of Engineers. [Only 40 battalions and 
36 guns were able to reach Metz.] 

Seventh Gorjps. 

Commandbb-in-Chiep, General Fdlix Douay; Chief of 
the Staff, G^n. Benson ; Commander of Artillery, Gen. de 
Li^geard. 1st Div., Gen. Conseil Dumesnil ; 1st Brig., 
Gen. Nicolai ; 2nd Brig., Gen. Maire. 2nd Div., Gen. 
Liebert ; 1st Brig., Gen. Guiomar ; 2nd Brig., Gen. de la 
Bastide. 3rd Div., G^n. Dumont ; 1st Brig., Gten. Bordas ; 
2nd Brig., Gen. Bittard des Portes. 

Strength of Corps : 38 battalions ; 20 squadrons — 
(Amiel's Div., five regiments, in two brigades, Lancers, 
Hussars, and Dragoons) — 72 guns, 18 mitrailleuses, and 4 
companies of Engineers. [One cavalry brigade of two 
regiments never joined the 7th Corps.] 

Reserve Cavahy. 

1st Div., Gen. du Barail ; 1st Brig., Gen. Margueritte ; 
2nd Brig., G«n. de Lajaille; 16 squadrons. Chasseurs 
d'Afrique, and 12 guns. [Three regiments reached Metz 
on the 10th of August, and the 4th at Mouzon on the 

2nd Div., Gen. Yiscomte de Bonnemains ; Ist Brig., Gen. 



Article 3. — ^AU other arms, as well as the nuUeriel of the 
Army, consisting of flags (eagles and standards), cannons, 
horses, military chests, army equipages, munitions, etc., 
shall be surrendered at Sedan to a Military Commission, 
appointed by the French Commander-in-Chief, to be given 
over immediately to the German Commissioner. 

Article 4. — ^The fortress of Sedan shall be immediately 
placed in its actual state, and, at the latest, by the evening 
of September 2, at the disposal of His Majesty the King of 

Article 5. — ^The officers who shall not have subscribed 
the engpagement mentioned in Article 2, and the men, 
after having been disarmed, shall be ranked in regiments 
and conducted in good order into the peninsula formed by 
the Mouse near Iges. The groups thus constituted shall 
be handed over to the German Commissioners by the 
officers, who will immediately give over the command to 
the sous*officers. This arrangement will begin on the 2nd 
of September and should be finished on the 3rd. 

Article 6. — The military medical men, without exception, 
will remain behind to take care of the wounded. 

Done at Fr^nois, September 2, 1870. 

(Signed) Von Moltee. 
Db Wimppfbn. 



Der Deutsch-Franzosische Krieg, 1870-71 . Redigirt von 
der Ejriegsgeschichtlichen Abtheilung des Grossen General- 

The German Artillery. Captain HofEbauer. 


Operations of the First Army. Major A. von Schell. ^ ViO 

Operations of the Bavarian Army. Captain H. Helvig. -Tw^ 

Tactical Deductions from the War 1870-71. Captain A. 
von Boguslawski. K-O 

Our Chancellor ; Sketches for a Historical Picture. By 
Moritz Busch.d/^ - 'J^ 

Bismarck and the Franco-German War, 1870-71. By 
Dr. Moritz Busch^^'X:;' - — 
^^ My Diary during the last Great War. By W. H. Busselt. y\ ^ 

L'Armee^u Ehin. Par le Marechal Bazaine, 

Episodes de la Guerre de 1870 et le Blocus de Metz. 
Par PEx-Marechal Bazaine. 

AfPaire de la Capitulation de Metz. Proces Bazaine. 

Metz, Campagne et N^gociations. Par un Officier su- 
perieur de TArm^e du Ehin. 

Journal d'un Officier de TArmfe du Ehin. Par Ch. 

(Euvres Posthumes autographes in^dits de Napoleon III. 
Collected and published by the Comte de la Chapelle. 
^ Sedan. Par le General de Wimpffen. 
/.^ — ^ La Joumfe de Sedan. Par le General Ducrot. 

(Guerre de 1870. Bazeill^s-Sedan. Par le General 
Lebnm^^^^^^^______ — 
^ Cftftipagne de 1870. Belfort, Eeims, Sedan. Le 7® 
Corps de TArm^e du Ehin. Par le Prince Georges Bibesoo. 
Journal d'un Officier d'Ordonnance, Juillet 1870 — Fevrier 
1871. Par le Comte d'Herisson. 

Campagne de 1870. La Cavalerie Fran9aise. Par le 
Lieut. -Col. Bonie. 
> Campagne de 1870-71. Si^ge de Paris. Operations du 

13* Corps et de la TroisiJme Armee. Par le G^n^ral 
' Vinoy. 

Documents Eelatifs au Si^ge de Strasbourg. Publics 
I par le General Uhrich. 



Army, German, First, as pivot, 
138 ; also, 142, 144, 165. 

Army, German, Seoond, and 
First, all available men in 
motion, 190. 

Army, German, Third, Bavarians 
of, at Trianoonrt, 254; move- 
ments of, 255, 256. 

Army, MacMahon*s, between 
Rbetel and Vonziers, 243. 

Army of the Mease (German), 
composition of, 230; moving, 
232, 233; movements of, 254, 
255, 256; positions and losses, 

Army, Prussian, reform, 4, 5, 6. 

Army of the Rhine (French), 
positions at Spicheren, 117; 
retired westward of Metz, 188 ; 
facing Paris, 193; retires to 
Metz, 226, 228; reasons for 
defeat of , 229 ; in Metz, 285. 

Amdt, the spirit of, 2. 

Arry, village, 165. 

Ars, village on the Moselle, 177, 
191, 193, 215 ; road from, to 
Jnssy, troops on, 211. 

Ars-Laquenexy, village, 151. 

Artillery, duel at Beanmont, 
270; clever withdrawal of 
Failly's, 270; French and 
German, 312, 313; German, 
at Noisseville, 281 ; effect of, 
299 ; German, grand bnt disas- 
trous conduct of, 201 ; Stein- 
metz's attack with, 212, 2ia 

Attigny on the Aisne, 234, 249, 

Aube, river, 247. 

Aubou^, 208. 210. 

Auerswald, Colonel von, 182, 183. 

Austria, and the Italian question, 
12; refuses Conference, 12; 
crushed by Prussia, excluded 
from Germany, 13; irritated 
as well as humbled, 16; re- 
quests Diet to call out Federal 
Corps, 12. 

Austrian Emperor, Francis Jo- 
seph, and Schleswig-Holstein, 
6, 7, 9; meets Napoleon III. 
at Salzburg, 33, 34 ; Napoleon 
III. appeals to, 160. 

Aymard, General, 280. 

Aymard*s division of Decaen's 
Corps at Colombey, 156, 161 ; 
at Vionville, 180. ^ 

Balan, 298, 305, 306; and 

Bazeilles, Germans hold, 310; 

the Emperor watching fight 

near, 311 ; Wimpffen's effort 

at, 316, 317, 324. 
Ban St. Martin (Metz), Bazaine's 

fatal despatch from, 241. 
Banth^viUe, 257; Guards at, 

Bar le Due, King at, 25th Aug., 

233 ; German head-quarters, 

243, 247 ; council at, 254, 255, 

Baraque Mouton, farmstead, 

Germans take, 126. 
Barby, General von, 163, 164 ; at 

Mars la Tour, 180, 183, 184. 
Barail, Du, at Conflans, 164 ; at 

Mars la Tour, 183, 184. 
Bamekow, General von, 121, 185. 
Basle, 70. 
Bataille, General, at Spicheren, 

120, 123, 126; at VionviUe, 

171, 173, 174. 



Bavarians in Bazeilles, 298, 299. 

Bayon on the Upper Moselle, 

Bayonville, 259, 264. 

Bazaine, Marshal, ordered to 
occupy Saarbriick, 72, 73, 74, 
92, 93; at Spicheren, 116; 
fears being turned, 118, 124; 
has three divisions within nine 
miles, 129 ; to protect Frossard, 
134, 138, 140; promoted over 
six Marshals, 145, 146 ; takes 
command, 147; head -quarters 
at Bomy, 148 ; unable to 

- retreat over Moselle, protects 
retreat, 149 ; slightly hurt at 
Colombey-Nouilly, 157 ; retreat 
of Army, 159-168; roused by 
cannonade, 171 ; at Vionville, 
175, 176, 177, 180, 185; at 
Gravelotte, 188 ; motives ex- 
amined, 192; military theory, 
193 ; retires to strong position, 
193 ; mis judgment of, 196 ; 
battle of Gravelotte and retreat 
on Metz, 199-227 ; incapable of 
retrieving previous errors, 228 ; 
suspicions against, not justified, 
229, 230; leaves MacMahon 
free to act, 239; anxiety to 
relieve, 240 ; his fatal despatch, 
241, 242 ; 252, 253 ; in Metz, 

Bazeilles, village, 287 ; terrible 
combats in, 293-306. 

Beaumont, 251, 257 ; 5th Corps at, 
261 ; Failly reaches, 263-266 
Failly surprised at, 237-271 
retreat with running fight, 273 
Germans in front of, 274. 

Beauclair, village, 258, 262. 

Beaufort, 262. 

Belgian frontier, the, 245 ; 
French Army pressed against, 

285, 292, 295, 296, 297. 
Belgium, French, and Prussian 

proposals, 22; French to be 
followed into, if not disarmed, 

286, 297. 

Belfort, 62, 64, 84, 93, 235, 236 ; 
fortress untaken, Sept. 1st, 

Bellecroix, 141, 152, 160. 

Belval, 261, 262, 267. 

Benedetti, M. de, French Am- 
bassador, and Bismarck, 10, 
12, 19, 20, 21 ; goes to Ems, 
42 ; interviews with King, 

Bennigsen, Herr von, asks ques- 
tion about Luxemburg, 26. 

Berlin, 1, 2, 3 ; political conflict 
in, 6, 8 ; Council in, 9, 12 ; 
King and Bismarck return to, 
13; King reaches, 52; head- 
quarters still at, 69. 

Bernecourt, 189. 

Beust, Count von, Saxon Minister, 
makes proposals, 11; as Aus- 
trian Chancellor, 33. 

Brahaut's Cavalry, 234. 

Bibesco, Prince Georges, cited, 
62 ; about Douay, 258 ; Cui- 
rassiers on flooded bridge, 274, 
311 ; description of Sedan, 321. 

Bismarck, Count Otto von, chosen 
to advise the King, 3 ; experi- 
ence at St. Petersburg, 4 ; deal- 
ings with Prussian Parliament, 
4 ; and Polish Insurrection, 
1864, 8 ; Convention of Gastein, 
8; and Parliament, 8; and 



Anstrian protection, 9; and 
Benedetti, 10 ; Nikolsbnrg, 
eecret military treaties with S. 
German Statee, 14, 15 ; founda- 
tion of German Unity, 16; 
view of Napoleon III., 17, 18 ; 
and Benedetti's demand for left 
bank of Rhine, 20, 21 ; and Bel- 
gium, 22 ; and Luxemburg, 25; 
prints Bavarian secret treaty, 
25 ; answers Bennigsen, 26; 
retrospect on Luxemburg ques- 
tion, 20, 90; with Moltke in 
Paris, 1867, 32 ; utUizes Salz- 
burg meeting to rouse German 
feeling, 34, 35 ; desires to avoid 
war, 37 ; publishes account of 
Ems meeting, 47 ; meets King 
William at nulway, 52 ; saying 
to Benedetti on Napoleon's 
dynasty, 134; on King's staff 
at Malmaison, 214; seen by 
Dr. Russell at Bar le Due, 255, 
256; former hunting in Ar- 
dennes, 266 ; sends to German 
Minister at Brussels, 285 ; de- 
scribed by Russell, 322; in- 
fluence on terms of settlement, 
327-^; meeting with Emperor, 

Bismarck, Counts Herbert and 
WUliam, 183. 

Bitsche, fortress, commanding 
pass in the Vosges, 67, 70, 76, 
93,96, 97, 99, 114, 115, 116, 143; 
still untaken Sept. 1st, 283. 

Blumenthal, General von, at 
Woerth battle, 115; carries 
Chantrenne farm, 200; 234; 
248 ; at Bar le Due, in favour 
of northern march, 254, 255; 

forecasts French fate, 255; at 

conference of Ch^mery, 295 ; 

with Crown Prince at Sedan, 

Bois Chevalier, 300. 
Bois les Dames, De Failly goes 

to, 259. 
Bois de la Cusse, 195 ; Hessians 

attack through, 202, 206 ; fight- 
ing in, 219, 221. 
Bois de la Garenne, 295, 306; 

wandering battalions in, 312b 
Bois de Genivaux, French in, 

194, 196; German attack on, 

205 ; French in, 206, 207, 211, 

Bois des Ognons (Vionville), 177, 

Bois de Vaux, 193, 194, 204; 

attack from feared, 211, 218; 

and forest of Jaumont, tract 

between, 228. 
Bois de Vionville, 169, 171, 17a 
Bois St. Amould, 169^ 171. 
Bonie, Colonel, 313. 
Bonnemain's, General de, cavalry 

charge at Woerth, 112 ; cavalry 

at Sedan, 296 ; appeal to, by 

Ducrot, 313. 
Bonnemain's brigade to Les 

Grands Armoises, 258; to 

Raucourt, 261. 
Bonnemain's division, 249, 251 ; 

Cuirassiers crossing Meuse,274. 
Bordas, General, 249. 
Bordes, Fort des (Metz), 150; 152. 
Bomy, 148, 149, 150, 152, 153, 

155, 158, 160, 191. 
Bose, General von, 104; at 

Woerth, 110, 111, 113. 
Bouchepom, 79. 



Boulay, 139. 

Bonlt-aux-Bois, 258, 259. 

Bouillon, road to, northiern exit 
from Sedan, 296, 306. 

Bourbaki, General de, at Vion- 
ville, 185 ; at Gravelotte, 214, 
221, 223, 224, 225. 

Bouzonville, 79. 

Brahaut's, General de, Cavalry, 
234, 256, 262. 

Brandenburg, Infantry at Vion- 
ville, 174, 179. 

Bredow, General von, 163, 164 ; 
at Vionville, his brilliant 
Cavalry charge, 178; his bri- 
gade, 180. 

Br^me d'or, farmhouse, Germans 
take, 126. 

Brieulles but Bar, 251, 256. 

Briey, 166, 187 ; road to, 195 ; 
Germans on roads by, 240, 246. 

Brinconrt, General, brigade of 
Guards at Colombey, 153; 
brigade, 215. 

Bruch-Miihle, 101, 102. 

Bruville, 184; French position 
after Vionville, 186 ; outposts, 

Buchy, 143, 155. 

Buddenbrock, General von, cap- 

= tures Vionville, 173. 

Budritzky's troops, 221. 

Billow, General von, with bat- 
teries at Vionville, 172. 

Buzancy, 245; French in, 248, 
249, 250 ; German and French 
Cavalry skirmish, 256, 257, 259, 
260, 264; King William and 
staff watch Beaumont fight 
from, 269; German head- 
quarters, 291. 

Busch, Dr. Moritz,cited, on Sedan, 
321, 323; on Bismarck and 
the Emperor, 331; 333. 

Buxiferes, village, 171, 173. 

Cadenbronn, 117. 

Cambriels, infantry commander 
at Beaumont, ordered back by 
MacMahon, 270. 

Camp de Mis^re, le, in the loop 
of Meuse, 336. 

Canrobert, Marshal, 68, 93; 
at Chalons, 134, 135, 145; 
on the Moselle, 148; over 
Moselle,. 149, 153; halted 
at Rezonville, 161 ; position 
before Vionville, 169; his 
brigade recedes, 174 ; recapture 
of VionviUe and Flayigny, 
177 ; intrenching tools left at 
Chalons, 196; evidence on 
patrols, Bazaine trial, 199; 
his phrase about German 
"tirailleurs dPartillerie" 201; 
202 ; his cannon and infantry, 
203 ; extreme French right, 
207 ; outposts discovered, 210 ; 
borrows from Ladmirault, 215; 
looks for help from •JSazaine, 
223, 224 ; retreat, -^25 ; to 
Metz, 226 ; commands MoMes, 
236, 237, 278; at Noisseville, 
280, 281 ; 300. 

Canrobert's Corps, 141 ; at Vion- 
ville, 180; 6th Corps, 195; 
Cavalry, 233, 235. 

Capitulation of Sedan, the text 
drawn up by Head-Quarter 
Staff (German), 330. 

Carignan, road to, eastern way 
I out of Sedan, 296, 297 ; Emperor 



vanishes from, 287; Guard 
cavalry take, 291, dOl, 903; 
Wimpffen proposes to retreat 
on, 315. 

Carling, Steinmetz at, 139. 

Castagny, General de, misled 
(Spicheren), 129; did his hest 
hut was too late, 130 ; slightly 
hurt at Colomhey-Noailly, 157; 
at Vem^ville, 161. 

Castelnan, Connt, at Donchery, 
326; interposes, 329; with 
Emperor, 331. 

Causes of the war, summary of, 
52, 53, 64. 

Cavalry comhat at Mars la Tour, 
183, 184. 

Cavalry, French, its traditions, 
charge at Woerth, 108 ; move- 
ments of, 249 ; positions at 
Sedan, 296; charge at Sedan, 
313, 314, 315. 

Cavalry, German, over the Saar, 
118; at work, 139, 140, 141; 
watchfulness of, 150; activity 
beyond Moselle, 163, 164, 165 ; 
movements, 247, 248, 250, 256, 
257; value of cavalry, 259; 
close on French rear, 263; 
operations of, 233, 234, 291. 

Cazal, 310 ; defended by Li^bert, 
315, 316 ; Germans in, 317. 

Chagny, 251, 267. 

Chalons, reserve at, 64; Can- 
robert still at, 93, 134, 135; 
MacMahon and subordinates 
retire on, 136, 141, 143, 144; 
railway to, 189 ; roads towards, 
192; French Army driven to, 
230, 232, 233; camp at, 234, 
235, 236; new army, dangers of. 

240, 244, 245; camp, 247; 
army of, 264. 

Chamber, the French, sanctions 
war, 15; speeches in, 246. 

Chambi^re, Isle, 160 ; 278, 279. 

Champenois, farm, garrisoned, 
200, 202, 207; stormed and 
taken, 211. 

Changamier, Greneral, remarks on 
Bazaine*s reported words, 228. 

Chantrenne, farm, musketry 
from, carried, 200; Germans 
in, 202, 205, 207. 

Charles, Prince Frederick, of 
Prussia, commanding Second 
Army, 69; change of orders, 70; 
on the march, 78, 79 ; 158 ; 165 ; 
at Vionville, 170, 171 ; arrives 
from Pont k Mousson, 179, 180 ; 
and Voigts-Rhetz at Flavigny, 
182; 188, 190; general order 
issued to, 197 ; instructs Man- 
stein, 198; rides to sound of 
battle at Gravelotte, 202, 203, 
207, 219 ; in command of in- 
vesting Army, 231 ; intercepts 
letter, 244 ; 278, 281. 

Charles of Lorraine, Prince, in 
Prague, 229. 

Charmes, 233. 

Chassepot rifle, effect at Meutana, 

Ch&teaud'Aubigny, 151, 152,280. 

Ch&teau de Bellevue, German 
head - quartei-s, Emperor at, 
Capitulation signed at, 335. 

Chateau Salins, 140, 143. 

Ch&tel St. Germain, 161 ; deep 
defile, 195 ; Guard at, 207. 

Chaumont, 233; railway station 
books, 234, 236. 



Cer^ay, M. Ronher's ch&teaa of, 

papers found in, 21. 
Ch^mery, village, 143; conference 

of Moltke and Generals, 295. 
Chevreau, M. de, Minister of 

Interior, 233, 238. 
Chieulles and Vany, 280, 281. 
Chiers, the, 275, 287 ; bridges on, 

292 ; passage over, 294. 
Cissey, General de, at Colombey, 

153 ; 155 ; VionviUe, 181 ; bri- 
gades, 182; Gravelotte, 220. 
Cl^rambault, General de, at 

VionviUe, 184. 
Clermont in Argonne, 232, 254. 
Gochery, M., 43. 
Coffini^res, General, Governor of 

Metz, 147, 148. 
Cologne Gazette, Ems telegram 

published in, 47, 48. 
Colombey, village, 150 - 157 ; 

Colombey-Nouilly, battle of, 150, 

152-159; with VionviUe, and 

Gravelotte, battles, conse- 
quences of, 229. 
Commercy ,232 ; important French 

despatches captured, 233. 
Conference project, Napoleon's, 

11, 12. 
Conflans, 159, 164, 166, 191. 
ConseU • DumesnU, General, at 

Woerth, 99 ; his men, 106 ; his 

division, 266, 271. 
Contenson, Colonel, kiUed in 

charge at Mouzon, 273. 
Convention of Gastein, defined 

by Bismarck, 8. 
CourceUes, 117; Chaussy, 162; 

Snr Nied, 162, 165. 
Craushaar's brigade, 211, 

Crimean War, effect on relations 
of Russia and Prussia, 2. 

Crown Prince of Prussia, Frede- 
rick William, commands ThiixL 
Army, 69 ; at Spires, 70 ; leads 
advance, 76, 77 ; at the Kling- 
bach, 79; on the Lauter, 84; 
attacks Wissembourg, 86 ; 
checks pursuit, 89 ; position 
after, 91 ; before Woerth, 96, 
99; August 6th, 103, 104, 115 ; 
139 ; 159 ; 232, 241 ; his Cavalry 
near the Aube, 247 ; at Bar le 
Due, 254, 255; to Ste. Mene- 
hould, 259: ordered to attack 
at Sedan, 285 ; his operations, 
292 ; at Ch^mery, 294, 295, 297 ; 
directs troops to M^zi^res road, 
307 ; and his officers described 
by RusseU, 322 ; conference 
with King, 323. 

Custines, vUlage, 158. 

Czar of Russia, th% more than 
friendly, 16 ; his^Di&tern de- 
signs, 17. 

Daigny, bridge at, over Givonne, 
293 ; Germans fall back at, 304 ; 
succeed at, 305» 

Damvillers, 246, 256 ; phm of 
abandoned, 257. 

David, M. J^rdme, 49, 81. 

Decaen, General, commanding 
3rd Corps, 136 : at French 
Centre, 148-151 ; his four di- 
visions at Colombey, 153 ; mor- 
taUy wounded, 157. 

Declaration of War, 1, 52. 

Delme, 143. 

Despatches, important Frenchf 
captured^ 233. 



Diet of Frankfort, 12. 

Dieolonard, 141, 142, 143, 168, 
163, 164, 189. 

Doering, Major-GenenJ von, at 
Spicheren, 121 ; killed at Vion- 
▼iUe, 173. 

Dorabasle, 232, 254, 256. 

Doin le Mesnil, 295, 307. 

Donchery, failure to blow up 
bridge at, 289 ; Germans pre- 
pare to pass Menae at, 290, 293, 
205, 300 ; bridge, SffJ ; meet- 
ing of generals at, scene, 326, 
327-330, 331, 336. 

Doncourt, 177 ; hills, 180. 

Douay, General Abel, divisional 
commander, 84, 85; kiUed at 
Wissembonrg, 86, 87, 88. 

Douay, General F^lix, Chief of 
7th Corps, 68, 131 ; 144 ; move- 
ments of, 249, 250 ; ordered to 
move on the Mease, 258 ; to 
cross it, **coilt6 que ooAte,**^\, 
274, 276 ; occupies Floing and 
Illy, 290; shelled, 308, 309; 
Wimpffen and, 311, 312, 313, 
316 ; and the Capitulation, 319. 

Douzy, village, Ducrot's corps at, 
286, 287 ; Saxons pass, 291 ; 
and hold bridge, 292. 

Drouyn de Lhuys, M., Foreign 
Minister, 16-20. 

Dncrot, General, divisional com- 
mander, 84 ; at Woerth, 98, 99, 
106, 110 ; begins to retire, 113 ; 
complains of scarcity, 243 ; 276 ; 
Emperor in camp of, 286 ; urges 
Emperor to go to Sedan, 287 ; 
fired into, 291 ; holds the Gi- 
vonne, 296 ; takes command of 
Army, 300; superseded by 

Wimpffen,301, 302; operations, 
303, 304; disputes, 311, 312; 
appeal to cavalry, 313, 315, 
316 ; his description of interior 
of Sedan, 319 ; altercation with 
Wimpffen, 316, 317, 325. 

Dumont, Creneral, division com- 
mander of Donay's corps, 144 ; 
sent after Bordas, 250; at Beau- 
mont, 271. 

Dun, on the Meuse, 247, 257, 259, 

Durrenbach, 107. 

Duvemois, Clement, 49, 81. 

Eberbach, village, 98, 106, 107, 
108, 109, 110;stream, 107; 110. 

Elbe Duchies, the, taketf from the 
Dane, 7. 

Elsasshausen, French right, 98, 
106, 107 ; German attack on, 
110, 111; set on fire, 112. 

Emperor. See Napoleon. 

Empress of the French, Eugenie, 
fatal conduct in politics, 81 ; 
made Regent, 137, 235-239, 
Napoleon's telegram, 335. 

England, irritated by Mexican 
adventure, 32. 

Epinal, 131. 

Erize la Petite, 254. 

Etain, 165, 246. 

Failly, de. General, commander 
of 5th Corps, 61, 73 ; at Saar- 
brUck, 74, 92 ; fluctuating, 96, 
97 ; joins MacMahon after 
Woerth, 116; Spicheren, 117; 
halts, 131; to j^ancy, 134; 
counter-ordered, 135, 138, 144 ; 
troops, 233 ; in twen^ trains^ 



234 ; movements, 256, 258, 259 ; 
MacMahon*s despatches to, 
captured, 260, 261 ; axjtion 
at Nouart, 262, 263; in the 
Ardennes, 266 ; camp at Beau- 
mont attacked, 268 ; repels 
attack and retires, 269, 270, 
273; 285; 288. 

FaiUy, village, 278, 279, 280, 281. 

Faulquemont, 139 ; Emperor 
visited by Bazaine at, 140 ; 158. 

Faure, General, 252 ; 319 ; at Don- 
chery, 326. 

Favre, M. Jules, 52, 81. 

Fenesti^ange, 144. 

Flanville, 280, 281. 

Flavigny (Vionvnie), 171, 173, 
taken by Germans, 174, 176. 

Fleigneux, 306, 307, 309. 

Flize, Wiirtembergers engage 
Vinoy*s outposts at, 293, 295. 

Floing, north-west face of French 

. position, at Sedan, 290, 296; 
Germans in, 308, 309, 313. 

Forbach, 79, 94, 117, 118, 119, 
122, 123; 128, 129, 130; 137, 
m, 139. 

Forbacherberg, 126, 127. 

Forton, General de, 163 ; falls 
back on Vionville, 164, 168, 169 ; 
want of patrols, 171 ; returns 
cavalry charge, 178. 

France, General de, 166, 183. 

Fran9ois, General von, at Spich- 
eren, 122, 124. 

Fransecky, General von, at 
Gravelotte, 204 ; 217. 

Francheval, 287, 291, 300, 306. 

Frederick II., the Great, his 
Manstein, 199; compared, 229. 

Frederick WiUiam IV. , 2. 

French Court, the, projects of, 21. 

French, the, propose to move, 
147; unable to cross Moselle, 
148, 149 ; retreat after Colom- 
bey, 159 ; surprised by artillery 
(Vionville), 170 ; advance, 214 ; 
counter-stroke at Floing, 310. 

French prisoners sent to Ger- 
many, 336. 

French Generals, examples of two 
fatal errors, 147; meeting to 
consider Capitulation, 324, 325. 

Fr^nois, German battery in, fires 
on Vinoy, 289 ; batteries at, 
alarm French railway ofScials, 
292 ; batteries on, to give signal 
to renew, 323, 324. 

Fresne, 165. 

Froeschwiller, MacMahon's posi- 
tion, 98, 102, 106, 107 ; road to, 
110; 112; Raoult wounded at, 
113; captured, 114. 

Frossard, General, at Saarbriick, 
73, 74, 75; takes position at 
Forbach, 93, 94; on the Saar, 
116-118 ; disposition of troops, 
120 ; impressed, 123, 126 ; re- 
tires, 128, 129, 130, 131, 134; 
crosses Moselle, 148, 149, 153 ; 
at Rezonville, 161 ; failure of 
patrols, 168 ; at Vionville, 169 ; 
retreat, 175, 176; field-works, 
192, 195, 196 ; outposts begin, 
Gravelotte, 197, 200; strong 
position, 206-217; reserves, 226; 
at NoisseviUe, 279. 

Frossard's Corps, 159, 170, 171, 
185, 194. 

Furia Francese, 314. 

Galgenberg, the (Spicheren), 120. 



Galliffet, General de, cfaargee at 
St Menges, 308, 900 ; charges 
with Chasfleors d'Afriqne, 313. 

Gambetta, M., speaks against 
war, 51, 81. 

Garenne, the, 315. 

Gayl, General von, tarns Aymard 
out of Servigny, 280. 

German military system con- 
sidered— its risks, 97 ; mobili- 
zation — Prussian, 56, 57 ; S. 
German, 58. 

Germans, movements of about 
Sedan, 290-205, 310. 

German unity, foundation of, 14, 

General Staff, the Prussian, brain 
of the Army, 5. 

Germonville, 256. 

Gersdorf, Lieut. -Gen. von, 307. 

George of Saxony, Prince, sent 
down the Ome, 208 ; ordered to 
sweep round French right, 211. 

Giffert Wald, the (Spicheren), 123- 

Girard, General, killed in cavalry 
charge, 315. 

Girardin, M. St. Marc, estimate 
of Napoleon, 18. 

Givodeau, Wood of, 270. 

Givonne, the stream, 287> 293, 
295; held by Lebrun's and Du- 
crot's corps, 296 ; battle on the, 
298-304; in German hands, 310, 

Givonne, Fond de, and village, 
295, 306-311. 

Glablenz, Austrian Field-Marshal 
in Holstein, 12. 

Glilmer, Lieut. -General von, at 
Golombey, 163- 

Gneisenau, Major-Gen. von, 74, 
75, 76 ; his brigade failed to sur- 
prise Thionville, 158, 159; his 
brigade sent on by Goeben, 212. 

Gnligge, Captain, his battery at 
St. Hubert, 213. 

supports Kameke, 121; takes 
command, sends in reserves, 125; 
at Gravelotte, attacks to employ- 
French left, 205 ; Steinmetz 
talks to, 212. 

Goersdorf, 104. 

Golz, Major-General Baron von, 
129 ; attacks French retreat, 
and begins Golombey-Nouilly 
battle, 150 ; without orders, 
152, 154, 155; 215, 218; 278. 

Gondrecourt, General, 184 ; 225 ; 
village, 232. 

Grortschfldcoff, Prince, and the 
Treaty of Paris, 36. 

Gorze, village, 169, 171, 177, 179, 
185, 190. 

Gothard, St. , railway, a menace to 
France, 40. 

Govone, General, Italian envoy to 
Berlin, 10, 11. 

Goze, General, 91. 

Gramont, Due de. Minister for 
Foreign Affairs, sends Benedetti 
to Ems, 42 ; speech in Cham- 
ber, 43; presses demands, 45; 
46 ; 53, 54. 

Gramont, General de, 170, 178. 

Grand Pr6, viUage, 243, 247, 248, 
249, 250, 256, 264. 

Granville, Lord, attempts at com- 
promise, 47. 

Gravelotte, French Army directed 
towards, 159; 169; 171; 177; 



191 ; battle-field described, 193, 
194, 195 ; French position, 196, 
199 ; 204 ; 206 ; German position, 
206 ; Goeben and Steinmetz at, 
212 ; darkness ends fight at St. 
Hubert, 217 ; course of battle, 
218-223 ; numbers and losses on 
both sides, 226, 227 ; 229. 

Gravelotte, Bazaine*s account of, 

Gravelotte, defile, road across, 
212, 213. 

Gravelotte, road from, to Verdun, 
168, 169 ; road out of Metz, 

Gravelotte battle, various names 
for, 228. 

Great Staff, Grerman, leaves Ber- 
lin with King, 70; at Mainz, 
77; 142, 188; surprised at 
MacMahon's eastward march, 

Grenier, General, his division, 
149 ; at Golombey, 153, 154 ; at 
Vionville, 180, 181. 

Greyfere, farm, 181, 185, 186. 

Grigy, 155. 

Grimont, farm, 151 ; Bazaine con- 
sults generals at, 277. 

Grimont, Bois de, 279. 

Grouchy, Le Capitaine Marquis 
'de, despatches captured, 260. 

Grossbliedersdorf, 79. 

Guard, French, 215. 

Guard, Prussian, and Saxon at 
Gravelotte, 209-227. 

Guard, losses at St. Privat, 227. 

Gueblange, 139. 

Gunstett, Uhlans cross Sauer at, 
91; <Woerth), 100» 103, 106, 
107> 109. 

Habonville, 195, 202, 203, 206; 
Guard at, 208, 210. 

Hagenau, 84, 85, 89, 100, 115. 

Ham, 79. 

Hanover, King of, with Austria 
and the Bund, 9, 13. 

Han sur Nied, 163. 

Hapsburg - Lorraine, House of, 

Harricourt, 258. 

Harskirchen, 139. 

Hartmann, General Bitter von, 
at Woerth, 100, 102, 105, 106, 
112; cavalry, 212. 

Hasse, Captain, Battery at St 
Hubert, 213. 

Hatzfeldt, Count, 323. 

Heiltz TEv^que, 232. 

Hellimer, 139. 

Helmuth, Captain, 272, 273. 

Helvig, Captain Hugo, on French 
position, 99. 

Henry, Prince, Governor of Lux- 
emburg, 24. 

Herny, 143 ; King and Staff at, 

Hesse Darmstadt, included in 
the Prussian military system, 

Hesse, Prince Louis of, Lieut- 
General commanding Hessian 
division, 72 ; at Vionville, 186 ; 
holds Bois de la Cusse, 202 ; at 
Noissevift, 280. 

Hesse, Grand Duke of, 72. 

Hessians at AmanviUers, 220, 221. 

Hochwald, 100, 113. 

Hohenzollern, Candidature of 
Prince Leopold of, for the crown 
of Spain, 41, 42 ; withdrawn, 

B B 



Holland, King of, discloBes the 

designs on Lnxembnrg, 25. 
Holstein-Sclileswig, 7. 
Hungary and Austria, la 
House of Belgian weaver, meeting 

of Napoleon and Bismarck, 

House of Commons, English, 

averse to war, 7. 

If>^> peninsula on the Meuse, 

niy, village, 287, 308 ; 312, 313. 

niy, Calvaire d*, 290; French 
position, 295, 296, 306, 308, 310, 
312 ; Grermans reach, 313. 

Ingweiler, 115. 

Investment of Bazaine, troops for, 

Iron Gross, The Order of the, re- 
stored^ 70. 

Isle Chambi^re, Ladmirault 
crossing at, 160. 

Italian Kingdom created, 6. 

Italy, Victor Emmanuel, King of, 
Napoleon appeals to, 160. 

J&geni save railway viaduct, 

Jamy and Gonflans, sounds of 

battle, 171 ; road to, 197, 207. 
Jaumont, Pcchot retires to forest 

of, 224. 
Jerusalem, farm, 208. 
JoinviUe, 236. 
Jolivet's brigade, 120; at Spich- 

eren, 122; at Vionville, 172, 

JunivUle, 243. 
Jur6e, brook, 169, 177. 
Jussy, village on Moselle, 195. 

Kaiserslautem, 68, 76, 77, 79, 

Kameke, Lieut. -General von, at 
Spicheren, 121, 122, 124; with 
Steinmetz, 191, 192. 

Kedange, 277. 

Kehl, bridge of, broken, 70. 

Kirchbach, (general von, 104, 
105, 106, 113 ; at Sedan, 307. 

Kinglake, Mr., character of Na- 
poleon, 133. 

Kraatz, General von, at Vion- 
ville, 180, 181. 

Kummer, General von, Landwehr 
reserve, 158 ; 230. 

La Besace, village, 258, 261, 271, 

Ladmirault, General de, 93; at 
Spicheren, 116-118, 134; at 
Golombey, 148-162; at Vion- 
ville, 180, 181, 184, 185; at 
Gravelotte, 194; 215, 223; at 
Noisseville, 278, 279. 

Ladmirault's Corps, 140, 177, 183, 
199, 225, 226. 

La Folic, farm, 194, 198, 200, 202» 
207, 217, 225. 

Lafont de Villiers, General, 

Laheycourt, 232. 

Landstuhl, 95. 

Langensalza, Battle of, 13. 

La Moncelle, Saxons seize, 299, 
300, 302; brilliant French 
attack, 305 ; Emperor near, 

Lapasset, Grcneral, at Saargae- 
mines, 91 ; brigade at Vionville, 
171» 177, 185 ; at St. Ruffine, 
195 ; contest with Goht, 216» 



La Planchette, farm, 152. 

Laqnenexy, 281. 

Lartigae, General, 84, 09; at 

Woerth, 105-113; at Sedan, 

La Thibaudine, farm, 271. 
Lanter, and Lanterbourg, lines of, 

76, 77 ; 86, 87. 
Lanyalliera, 151, 152, 154, 156. 
La Vallibres, stream, 151. 
Laveauconpet, General, at Spicli- 

eren, 120; 122, 128; to be 

placed in Metz and Verdun, 

La Yir^ farm, Prince Angostits 

at, 306. 
Lebach, 73, 75, 79, 95. 
Leboeof, Marshal, Chief of the 

Stafi^ 49-50, 59-62 ; at Metz, 92 ; 

116; unfitness for command, 

117; 136; 145; 161 ; at Vion- 

yille, 169, 171, 177, 180, 181 ; at 

Gravelotte, 205, 211, 215, 217, 

225,226; 228; withdrawn from 

Noisseville, 279, 281. 
Leboeuf's Corps, 185, 194, 196. 
Lebrun, General, 235, 243, 261, 

270;; retreat on Sedan, 286, 287, 

288-294; at Bazeilles, 296-299 ; 

301, 302 ; at Givonne, 304, 311 ; 

condemns Wimpffen's efforts, 

316, 317 ; arrangements for 

Capitulation, 318, 319. 
Lebrun's Corps, 291, 293. 
Le Chesne-Populeux, 243, 249; 
' MacMahon, head-quarters, 251, 
; 257, 258 ; 263, 266. 
Lee, General Robert, his saying 

on war, 223. 
Legrand, General^ at Mars la 

Tour, 183, 184. 

Lehmann, Colonel, at Tronville, 

176, 177. 
Leipzig, farm, 194, 196, 207. 
L^moncourt, 143. 
Le Mont de Brune, 272, 273. 
L'Envie, farm, 202, 207. 
Lespart, General Guyot de^ 91 ; at 

Woerth, 141, 262. 
Les Etangs, 140, 142, 149. 
Lessy, cross roads by, 159, 161. 
L^tanne, bridge constructed at, 

" Le Temps," paragraph in, 246. 
L'H^riller and Pell^'s Division, 

Li^bert, General, 313, 315, 316. 
Ligny, 232; Great Staff and 

Crown Prince at, 245. 
Loftus, Lord Augustus, 46. 
Longeville, 241 ; camp, 161. 
Longuyon, 230. 
Longstreet, General (United 

States), 255. 
Lorencez, General de, at Colom 

bey-Nouilly, 153, 155, 157, 162. 
Lun^ville, 144, 159, 162. 
Luxemburg, negociations, and 

question, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28. 
Lavalette, Napoleon's letter to, 


Mack, General, at Ulm, 229. 

MacMahon, Marshal, assembling 
1st Corps near Strasburg, 68 ; 
scattered condition of command, 
84, 85; at Reichshofen, 89-99; 
at Woerth, 109, 112, 114; 
back on Sarrebourg, 116 ; 
ordered to Chalons, 134, 135, 
138, 144 ; still at large, 231 ) 
at Rhetel, 234; at Chalons, 



2M, 237 ; receives oommand of 
army, 238; moves army to 
Reims, 240 ; on the Aisne, 248 ; 
tarns from Stenay to Moozon, 
259 ; will pass the Mense, 265 ; 
near Beaumont, 270, 271, 276, 
284; 285; directs retreat on 
Sedan, 286, 287 ; relations to 
the Emperor, 288 ; aoconnt of 
conduct, 297; wounded, gives 
np command, 300; wound a 
great misfortune, 303. 

Magdebuig and Altmark r^- 
ments, losses, 178, 179. 

Mainz, 65, 67 ; 69, 72, 77, 92. 

Malancourt, 223 ; 281. 

Malmaison, 177. 

Malroy on Moselle, 278. 

Man^ue, General, mortally 
wounded at Noisseville, 281. 

Mance, brook, 177, 191, 193, 
194, 195 ; gully, 205 ;. eastern, 
207 ; ravine, 214, 216, 217. 

Manstein, General von, at Grave- 
lotte, 198-204, 219, 220 ; crosses 
MoseUe, 280. 

Manteuffel, General Baron von, 
at Berlin Council, 10; makes 
Austrians retreat beyond Elbe, 
12; precaution, 150; joins in at 
Colombey-Nouilly, 153, 155 ; 
at Noisseville, 278, 280. 

Marbache, 158; -Custines, 163, 

Margueritte, General, 141, 235, 
243; 249; 251, 258; 260, 261; 
275, 287 ; his cavaby, 296; 300; 
307 ; on the Calvaire dllly, 308, 
309; mortaUy wounded, 813. 

Marines, French, in Bazeilles, 

Marsal, 148, 232. 

Marshals of France, three caged 
inMetz,231. iSee Bazaine, Can- 
robert, Leboeuf. 

Mars la Tour, French Army 
directed on, 159, 163, 164 ; load 
from Gravelotte to Verdun 
passes, 168 ; battle of Vionville, 
170; ravine, 181; German 
Cavalry at, 183 ; German guns 
hold on near, 183; cavalry 
at, 186 ; Germans occupy, 191, 

Mattstal, 98, 100, 102. 

Maxau on the Rhine, 64. 

M^nil sur Saulz, letters seized 
by German cavalry at, 233. 

Mensdorff, Count, Austrian 
Foreign Minister, 9. 

Mercy le Haut, or Mercy les Metz, 
151, 278: 

Metman, General, at Spicheren, 
129, 130 ; 160, 161 ; at Vion- 
ville, 177 ; leaves Rezonville, 

Metz, 68, 76, 79, 82, 92, 93 ; de- 
fences incomplete, 94 ; disorder 
and consternation in, 131-135 ; 
entire army moves back on, 
136; (Colombey battle), 151, 
152 ; excitement in, 159; Baz- 
aine's army moves nearer to, 
188 ; shutting up in, not thought 
of, 190; Bazaine's theory about, 
192; French Army by, 193, 195, 
197 ; Steinmetz*s mistaken hope 
of driving French into, 212; 
magnetism of stronghold like, 
229, 230; blockade of, 231 ; 239, 
241, 242; 244-246 ; two oorpssent 
back to, 257 ; army, 277 ; mili- 



tary situation about, 282 ; for- 
tress, 283, 336. 

Metz, road from, to Strasburg, 67; 
from Mainz to, 67; road at 
Spicheren, 128 ; railway, 129 ; 
roads out of, 159 ; road to, 194 ; 
and Montm^dy road closed, 

Meurthe, valley of the, 144, 158, 

Mouse, the, 134, 136; 171 ; 189 ; 232, 
MacMahon near, 234 ; crossing 
at Stenay, 242, 246; Verdun, 
248, 249; MacMahon's army 
ordered to, 253 ; Germans on, 
256, 257, 260, 262; French 
Corps on left bank, 263, 270, 
271, 273 ; dammed to fill Sedan 
ditches, 274; 280; 285, 286; 

: 289; passage at Mouzon held 
by Saxon Crown Prince, 292 ; 
pontoon over, 294; 295 ; loop of, 
296 ; roads near, 307. 

Mexico expedition, 7. 

Mey, village (Colombey-Nouilly), 

M^zi^res, route for Chalons, 242 ; 
MacMahon to retreat on, 251- 
253, 255, 257 ; French to be cut 
off from, 286 ; retreat to, given 
up, 290, 295, 297, 301, 303 ; road, 


Michel, General, unique telegram, 
62; at Woerth, 107, 108; 
charges of his Cuirassiers, 109 ; 
cavalry, 296. 

Mitchell, M. Robert, 48, 50. 

MobUeSf unfurnished with muni- 
tions, 132; bad behaviour of, 
returned to Paris, 236 ; reasons 

- for, 238. 

Mobilization, French, 59; defects 
and difficulties, 60-63. 

Mobilization, German, 2, 3, 57, 
58, 59. 

Moltke, General Baron von, Chief 
of the Staff, 3 ; his work, 5, 6 ; 
at Berlin Council, 10 ; in 1868 
frames plan of campaign in 
France, 37 ; remark on declara- 
tion of war, 52 ; plans, 65, 66 ; 
disposition after Saarbriick, 76- 
78; intentions before Woerth, 
96; caution, 138; 142; prepared 
for French on right bank, 158 ; 
directs Second Army on Moselle, 
162; memorable instructions, 
165 ; judgment confirmed, 189, 
190; at Flavigny, 191 ; orders 
on 17th, 197, 198 ; keeps back 
Steinmetz at Gravelotte, 204; 
207 ; his main object, 216 ; him- 
self directs attack, 217; original 
design of battle, 218 ; estimate 
of Bazaine, 218 ; starts for Paris, 
232, 234; Bazaine's despatch, 
242; arrangements to meet 
French move, 244-246, 254, 256, 
257, 259, 260, 264; sanctions 
bombardment of Strasburg, 
283, 284; 294; at Conference 
of Ch^mery, 295 ; quickens 
operations, 297; 302, 307; with 
the King, looking on Sedan, 
described by RusseU, 321 ; de- 
signated by King, suspends hos- 
tilities, 323 ; meets the French 
Generals at Bonchery, 325-330; 
goes to King at Vendresse, 

Montaigu, General, wounded and 
prisoner^ 184, 




Montanban, General. See Pali- 
kao, Gomte de. 

Montaadon, General, 94; at 
Spicheren, 117, 129; 137; at 
Colombey, 153, 155 ; at Vion- 
▼ille, 177; near Rezonyille, 

Montfainoon, 256, 257. 

Monthoiii, 264. 

Montigny la Grange, 195, 198; 
held by Freneh, 225, 226. 

Montimont, 307. 

Montlaisant, Colonel, 224, 225. 

Montm^y, 242, 246, 276, 277, 

Montois, 223. 

Montoy, 151, 152, 154. 

MontpayToaz,M. Gnyot de, illns- 
trates French feeling, 51. 

Monvillers Park, Bazeilles, 298 ; 
combats in, 299, 305, 306. 

Morsbronn, 106, 107. 

Moscow, farm, French position, 
194, 205, 206, 207, 213; every 
attempt on, repnlsed, 214 ; Le- 
boeuf in, 217. 

Moselle, river, 92, 134, 135, 136, 
139, 141 ; German advance on, 
142; Bomyon,143, 144; French 
get over, 146, 147; in flood, 148, 
149 ; Colombey, 150, 151, 153 ; 
possible French advance up 
right bank, 158; retreat on, 

' 159 ; fog on, 161 ; Second Army 
sent over, 162, 163, 169 ; valley, 
179 ; crossed at Marbache, 189, 
190 ; near Ars, 193 ; below Metz, 
194; crossed at Bomy, 204; Ger- 
mans on left bank of, 230, 231, 
278, 280, 281. 

Mouzon, 260, 261, 263; 269, 270, 

272; Cnirasfliers eharge' at, 
273 ; Germans at, 274 ; Mac- 
Mahon at, 286; rout at, de- 
scribed to Emperor, 287 ; Ger- 
mans take, 291. 

MoycBuvre, forest of, 218. 

Mnrat, Prince,f ollowed byRedem, 
164 ; his dragoons bolt, 170. 

Nancy, 134, 139; Uhlans ride 
into, 141, 144, 159, 163. 

Napoleon I., the Great, cavalry 
traditions of, 165 ; his genius re- 
quired, 193 ; on competence of 
captains for large command, 

Napoleon III. , Louis, declares war 
on Prussia, 1 ; his policy and 
position in Europe previous to 
the war, 2-20; attempt on 
Luxemburg, 22, 23; Russian 
alliance, Paris exhibition, 31 ; 
death of Maximilian, 32; at 
Salzburg, 33, 34 ; suspects mili- 
tary treaties, 35 ; seeks allies, 
36 ; fears for the dynasty, 49 ; 
resolves on war, 50; declares 
war, 52; head-quarters at Metz, 
64 ; 72 ; takes command, 73 ; 
Saarbriick, 74; incapacity at 
Metz, 82, 92, 93; Spicheren, 
116, 117 ; confusion, 132; char- 
acter unaltered from 1836, 133$ 
134; despatch to Paris, 135; 
resigns command, 136; 138; 
140 ; 145 ; fails to press retreat 
over Moselle, 1^, 147 ; at 
Longeville, 159; appeal to Aus- 
tria and Italy, 160; at and after 
Gravelotte, 161, 162, 166, 167; 
and LebcBuf, 228, 229; 231; at 



Chfaons and Reims, 235-242 
interview with MacMahon, 251 
military judgment correct, 253 
in Ducrot-s camp, 286, 287; re- 
fuses to retire to Sedan, yet 
goes, 287 ; enters Sedan, 288 ; 
refuses to leave, 289; and 
Des Sesmaisons, 290; notices 
retreat, 301 ; rides out early 
to see battle, sees MacMahon 
and goes under fire, 311 ; 
and Wimpffen, 316; and his 
generals, 317, 318; hopes to 
appesd to the King, 318 ; Capi- 
tulation arranged with generals, 
319, 320 ; letter to King, 322 ; 
awaiting reply, 324 ; Wimpffen 
quarrels before him, 325; he 
surrenders, leaves Sedan, meets 
Bismarck, 331-333; meets King 
and Crown Prince, telegraphs 
to Empress, 335; departs for 
Wilhelmshohe, hears of Paris 
Revolution, 337 ; reflections, 

Napoleon, Louis, Prince Imperial, 
baptism of fire, 73, 74 ; with 
Emperor, 161, 166 ; at Chalons, 
237 ; sent off, 239. 

Napoleon, Frince Jerdme, 41 ; 
with Emperor at Chalons, 236 ; 
supports Trochn, suggests ab- 
dication, 237. 

Needle gun, the, 7. 

Neehwiller, 98, 113, 114. 

Nehrdorff, General, withdraws 
Saxons, 210. 

Neufch&teau, 233. 

Neunkirchen, 79. 

Nice and Savoy ceded to France, 

Nied, the French, 135 ; German, 

136; 140; 142; 143. 
Niederbronn, 70; (Woerth), 113, 

Niederwald, the, 107, 108, 109, 

Nikolsburg, Treaty of, 13, 14, 16. 
Noisseville, 164, 155, 156 ; battle 

of, 277-279; Manteuffel attacks, 

280 ; contest for, 281. 
Nom6ny, 140. 
Nostitz, Count, at Donchery 

meeting, 326. 
Nouart, 256, 258-264, 267. 
NouiUy, 148, 151, 156. 
Nov^ant, 163, 177. 

Oches, 249, 260, 261, 263, 265; 
MacMahon at, 266 ; Crown 
Prince at, 269. 

OUivier, M. Emile, pacific re- 
marks, 43 ; thinks quarrel 
ended, 48 ; political position, 
prophetic words, 50; goes to 
war ** d eo&ur leger,*^ 51 ; 81 ; 
Ministry turned out, 137. 

Oily, Germans occupy, 309. 

Olozaga, Spanish Ambassador, 

Orcet, Captain d', and Donchery 
meeting, 326, 327, 328. 

Omain, the river, 232; 284. 

Ome, the river, 193, 195, 208; 
cantonments on, 246. 

Operations, German and French, 
August 29th, 259, 260, 261. 

Palatinate, the, possible irruption 

into, 70. 
Pagny, 163. 
Palikao, Comte de, General, Mon- 



tanban, 81 ; 137 ; made by Em- 
press Minister of War, 235; col- 
lects new^aiQny, 235 ; telegram 
to,fromEmperor,239; views,240, 
242; responsible for disaster, 
251 ; insists on help for Bazaine, 
252, 253; utter ignorance of 
situation, 254, 276; and Wimpf- 
fen, 288, 324, 336. 

Palli^res, General Martin des, 

Pange, French position, 136, 140, 
: 12, 143, 149, 152. 

Pape, Major-General von, 203; 
Guard prepared to attack St. 
Marie, 208, 209 ; at St. Marie, 
219, 220; his Guards' attack on 
St. Privat, 222. 

Paradol, Provost, view of the war, 
and suicide, 54, 55. 

Paris, remonstrances from, 135; 
and Parisians, 146 ; army of 
the Rhine facing, 193; placed 
in state of defence, 233 ; fears 
of uncovering, 240 ; newspaper 
informs Moltke, 245 ; road to, 
246; ordersfrom,toMacMahon, 
252, 253 ; ready for revolution, 
285 ; Wimpifen at, 287. 

Parliament, Prussian, opposition 
to army reform, 4. 

P^chot, General, falls on Saxons, 
210 ; ' * valiant officer " attempts 
to stop enemy, 224. 

Pell6, General, takes command 
on Douay's death, 88 ; at 
Woerth, 99. 

Pestel, Colonel von, at Saarbriick, 

Pirmasens, 69, 77, 86. 

Pfaffenwald, the, 125. 

Pfordten, von der, Bavarian 
Minister, signs secret treaty, 14. 

Phalsbourg, 115, 143, 144 ; French 
fortress untaken, 283. 

Pietri, M. , telegraphs to Empress, 

Plappeville, fort, 194 ; Guard at, 
195 ; guns not heard at, 214, 

Podbielski, General von, 245, 246; 
at conference of Chem^ry, 295 ; 
with King William, 321; at 
Donchery meeting, 326. 

Point du Jour farm, 191, 194; 
quarries below, 205; burnt, 206, 
207 ; Steinmetzhopes tocapture, 
212 ; repulses attack, 214 ; at- 
tempts to storm, 217. 

Poix, 156 ; German guns at, 279, 

Ponim6rieux, 165. 

Pont k Moussdn, 141, 142, 143 ; 
Prince Frederick Charles at, 
158 ; 163, 171 ; Royal head- 
quarters, 189 ; Moltke starts 
for, 197 ; Moltke at, 283. 

Porru au Bois, Prussian Guard in, 

Possesse, 232. 

Pouilly, Germans at, 275 ; bridge 
constructed, 291. 

Preuil, General du, at Vionville, 

Preuschdorf, 104. 

Provisions, French scarcity of, 

Prussia, King of. See William I. 

Prussian Army, now German, 
characteristics of, 5, 6 ; victories 
in Denmark with needle-gun, 7; 
augmented, 8 ; mobilizing, 11, 



12; enters Anstria, fights Sa- 

dowa, 13. 
Pmsso-Italian Alliance, 10. 
Puttelange, Castagny marches to, 

129 ; French generals assemble 

at, 130. 
Pazienx, 163, 164. 

Quarries of Amanvillers and St. 

Hubert, 192, 205, 217, 218. 
Quatre Champs, 258. 
Quelen, Fort, Metz, 141, 148. 

Railway, questions of control, 
Belgian, Luxemburg, and St. 
Gothard, 39, 40. 

Rastadt, 65, 92. 

Rations, in Sedan, sent away by 
mistake, 289. 

Ranch, Colonel von, at Flavigny, 
Hussars capture battery and 
surround Bazaine, 175. 

Raucourt, 271 ; Douay retires on, 
265; attacked, 274; 293. 

Raoult, General, 99, 106, 110, 

Reconnaisances, French, inade- 
quate, 167. 

Redem, General von, before Metz, 
163; follows Murat, 164; at 
Flavigny, 178. 

Red Hill, Rotheberg, or Spur at 
Spicheren,119, 120, 122; storm- 
ing of, 124, 125, 126, 127; 
Spicheren road up, 128. 

Reichshofen, 84, 96 ; and Nieder- 
bronn, 100, 109, 112, 113, 114. 

Reille, General, 320, 325, 331. 

Reims, 234, 242, 244, 245, 246 ; 
drd Army Cavalry in sight of, 
247, 249; 251. 

Remilly, 231, 260; disordered 
French retreat to, 272, 273 ; 293. 

Remonville, 264. 

Reppertsberg, Spicheren, 120. 

Revigny les Vaches, Crown 
Prince's head-quarters, 255. 

Rex, Colonel von, at Spicheren, 
121 ; in Bois des Ognons, 185. 

Rezonville, 164; road from Grave- 
lotte to Verdun through, 168, 
169; (Vionville battle), 170, 
171, 177, 179, 186; 188, 190, 191 ; 
197 ; 2nd Corps at, 215, 242. 

Rheinbaben,Lieut. -GeneralBaron 
von, at Spicheren, 119, 120; 
effective operations on Verdun 
road, 163; at Vionville, 170; 
begins battle with battery, 171 ; 
his work done, 172. 

Retonfay, 279. 

Rhetel, MacMahon's army at, 243, 

Rhine, the, and Moselle, 65; 
bridges and ferries destroyed, 
70 ; 76. 

Roman road, Vionville, 169, 171. 

Roncourt, high ground, French 
position, 194 ; open descent to, 
195 ; limit of French right, 207, 
208, 210, 211 ; Saxons at, 222, 

Roon, General von, made War 
Minister, 3 ; administrative 
measures, 5, 6 ; causes King to 
retire out of fire, 216; with 
King, 321. 

Rosseln, Von Golz marches from, 

Rouher, M., 38, 49 ; goes to Em- 
peror at Chalons, 240 ; suggests 
proclamation, 241. 



lUw^rieiiUes village, 100 ; French 
reserves in» 194. 

Ropi^y, 281. 

Ruflsell, Dr. William, diaiy dted, 
deseription of Bismarck at Bar 
le Dae, 265; of Sedan and the 
King, 321 ; of Crown Prince, 

Russell, Lord, Danish question,?. 
Russia, 2, 4, 8, 11, 16. 

Saar, 76; French positions on, 92; 
German, 95, 118, 119; French, 
136; 138, 139; upper, 143, 144. 

Saarbourg, 116. 

Saarbrttck, 70 ; affair at, 73, 77, 
118, 119 ; road, 152. 

Saarlouis, 77, 136; road from, 152, 

Sachy, guard at, 292. 

Sadowa, battle of, 13, 14, 16. 

St. Ail, 195; German batteries at, 
203; 209, 210 ; and St. Marie, 
Prussian Infantry Guard, 219, 

St. Avoid, 79, 94, 117, 120 ; Ba- 
zaine at, 124, 129; Castagny 
called to, 130; 138; 140; 143. 

St. Barbe, village and church 
tower, 151, 152, 153; ravine, 
154. 156 ; 277, 278, 279, 280. 

St. Dizier, 234. 

St. Germain, ravine, 214. 

St. Hilaire, 170, 182. 

St. Hubert, farm, above Grave- 
lotte, narrow causeway by, 194; 
strong, 196 ; contest at, 205, 
206, 207, 212; slopes near, 213 ; 
Germans hold, 214 ; last fights, 
215, 216 ; in twilight, 217, 218. 

St. Julien, fort, 148$ 278, 279. 

St. Maroel, 169. 

St. Marie aux Chines, Canroberft 
occupies, 195 ; Gennan Guard 
advance on, 198, 202, 203 ; held 
by French, 206, 207 ; described, 
208; attack on road through, 
209; abandoned, 209; Saxon 
guns north of, 219; lagh road 
to, 221 ; General Pape at, sends 
out Guard, 222. 

St. Menehould, 232, 242, 251. 

St. Menges, 296, 301, 306 ; Ger- 
mans occupy, 307, 308; and 
push on, 309, 310, 311. 

St Mihiel, 240. 

St Privat la Montague, see (xrave- 
lotte, 194-225. 

St Quentin, Mount, fort, 159 ; 
161 ; 194, 195; highest point of 
position, 196 ; 214. 

St Ruffine, 211, 215, 218. 

Salignac-Fenelon, General, 315. 

Salzburg, meeting of Austrian 
and French Emperors at, 33. 

Sansonnet, 161. 

Sarreguemines, Montaudon at, 
117 ; 118, 119 ; retreat on, 128, 
129 ; 137, 138. 

Saner, stream, and Sulz, 100, 107. 

Saulny, 223; wood of, 224, 2*26. 

Saveme, 99, 112; retreat on, 114, 
115, 116 ; railway tunnels west 
of, 144. 

Saxon 12th Corps, 267 ; at Beau- 
mont fight, 269. 

Saxon horse cut off Lebmn*s bag- 
gage, 287. 

Saxon infantry at St. Marie, 210. 

Saxons in Daigny, 304, 305. 

Saxony, King of, in Pirna, cited, 



Saxony, Prince Royal of (Crown 
Prince), at Gravelotte, 198 ; at 
Aubon^, 207, 210 ; in com- 
mand of Army of the Mease, 
230, 241 ; 244 ; at Clermont in 
Argonne, 254 ; to cross Meuse, 
260; early march to Beaumont, 
264; to attack, 285 ; anticipates 
orders, 291 ; secures Chiers 
bridges, 292, 297. 

Saxony, Prince Greorge of, holds 
French, 263, 207, 208. 

Schellendorf, Colonel Bronsart 
von, 320. 

Schlotheim, General von, 248. 

Schmidt, Captain, artillery feat, 

Schultz, General, engineer, 284. 

Schwarzkoppen, General von, 181, 

Schwerin, General von, 121. 

Sedan, 14SJ@4; Bazaine suggests 
retreat onj 242, 249 ; 256, 266 ; 
occupation of, 272, 274-276; 
281; 286-289; 294; battle-field 
described, 295, 297 ; battle of, 
298, 299, 300, 301, 302, 303 ; 
Emperor returns to, 311 ; final 
efforts, 316; end of battle, 317; 
condition of interior, 319 ; losses 
on both sides, 336. 

Seille, river, reached by patrols, 
140; 142; 148; 151; 158; 189. 

Selz, 85. 

Semuy, 249. 

Senuc, 250 ; 264. 

Sermaize, 232. 

Servigny, 148, 155, 279, 280. 

Sesmaisons, Captain, 289, 290. 

Seton, Captain, remarks on 
Steinmetz, 212. 

Sheridan, General, U.S., 322. 

Sierck, 70. 

Spachbach, 103, 107. 

Spicheren, Frossard takes post at, 
94 ; 117 ; French position, 116, 
117, 118; battle-field, 119, 120; 
battle, 121-130; 137; temerity 
of German advance guard, 158. 

Spires, 70. 

Solf erino, effect of French success, 
6 ; Napoleon's saying after, 

Sommauthe, Bavarians in, 274. 

Sommerance, 264. 

Sourd, M. le, presents Declara- 
tion of War, 1, 52. 

Steinmetz, General von, com- 
manding First Army, 68, 76-78, 
95 ; characteristic speech of, 
121; begins Spicheren battle, 
122, 139, 142; advances, 149, 
157 ; instructions from Moltke, 
165, 191, 192, 197, 198 ; at Grave- 
lotte, 204; 211-217, 278. 

Steinburg, Woerth, 115. 

Stenay, on the Meuse, MacMahon 
hopes to cross at, 242, 243 ; 
247 ; 256, 264, 268. 

Stephan, General von, 294. 

Stiring-Wendel, village (Spich- 
eren), 120-124 ; 127-129. 

Stoffel, Colonel, 251, 252. 

Stonne, Emperor at, 253, 262; 
defiles leading to, 266; Ger- 
mans in, 274. 

Strasburg, 66, 67; 131, 132; 143; 
283; bombardment, 284; siege, 

Stiilpnagel,Greneralvon, at Spich- 
eren, 121 ; at Vionville, 172, 
173, 174 



Siiippe, river, 243. 
Bulx and Saner, 96, 08. 

Tann-Kathflamhansen, General 
▼on der, hiji Bavarian troops, 
01, 100, 104; at Beaumont 
figlit, 267, 269, 271 ; fires on 
Bazeillea, 293, 294 ; 297-299. 

Teterchen, 139. 

Thianconrt, 163, 164 ; cannonade 
heard at, 181. 

Thiers, M., speech against war, 

Thionville, 131; Grerman cuiras- 
siers at, 141 ; 230, 231, 245, 276. 

Tholoy, 75, 76, 79. 

T411iard, General, 315. 

Tirailleurs d^artUlerie^ 174; Can- 
robert's phrase, 201. 

Tixier's, General, division, Vion- 
viUe, 180. 

Toroy, 272, 274 ; 296, 317. 

Toul, town and fortress, 135; 
governor of, summoned by 
Uhlans, 164, 189 ; siege of, 232, 

Tourteron, 249, 293. 

Turenne, Vicomte de, bom at 
Sedan, 321. 

Tumier, Colonel, 276. 

Treves, 66, 76, 93. 

Triaucourt, 232, 264. 

Trocliu, GenertU, proposition to 
Emperor, 237 ; governor of Paris, 
238, 239. 

Tronville, village and woods, 169, 
171, 173, 176, 177, 180-185. 

Uhrich, General, governor of 

Strasburg, 283, 284. 
Uhlans, 140, 141, 213, 232. 

Valahr^e, General, 169, 178. 
Yalaz^, General, at Spicheren, 

120, 123; at Vionville, 172, 

Yalli^reB, brook, 27& 
Yalmy, battle-field, 239. 
Varennes, 247, 254, 257. 
Varize, 149. 
Vassy, 233. 

Vassoigne, General, 298. 
Yauban, fortified Sedan, 321. 
Yaudemont, 233. 
Yautoux, 166. 
Yerdun, 131, 169; road, 164, 165, 

170, 176, 188-199, 193 ; Germans 

moving towards, 232 ; 240, 241, 

242; Napoleon's despatch from, 

276, 277 ; fortress untaken, 

Yerg^, General, holds Stiring, 126, 

129 ; at Yionville, 171. 
Yem^ville, 161, 169, 177, 188, 199- 

Yerri^reSjWlirtembergers at, 274, 

Yerviers, Emperor at, 337. 
Yictor Emmanuel. SeeltsXj^ King 

Yienne le Chftteau, 257, 264. 
Yillette, 310. 
Yillemontrey, 270, 273. 
Yilleneuve, General, 270, 272. 
Yillers au Bois, 169. 
Yillers-Cemay, 287, 300, 306. 
Yillers below Mouzon, 266, 271, 

YUlers TOrme, 156, 280. 
YiUe sur Yron, 183. 
Yinoy, General, 253, 289, 290; 

and troops escape, 293 ; 336. 
Yionville, 164; 166; -Mars la 



Tour battle, 167-187 ; road to- 
wards, after battle, 190, 229. 

Vitry, 232, 233 ; cavalry capture 
stray French, 234, 241. 

Void, 232. 

Voigts-Rhetz, Greneral von, com- 
mander of 10th Corps, comes up 
at Mars la Tour» 170, 182. 

Volkingen, outposts in contact, 

Voncq, Germans take prisoners 
at, 263. 

Vosges, mountains, 66, 67 ; de- 
files i>f, open, 115, 116; 131; 

Vouziers, MacMahon's army at, 
234, 243, 245, 24S, 250, 257, 

Vr^my, 148, 279. 

Yrigne au Bois, 307. 

Wadem, remarkable march from, 

Wadelincourt, 310. 

Walther, General von, begins 
attack at Woerth, 101. 

Wamifordt, hamlet, 271. 

Warren Wood, or Bois de la Ga- 
ronne, 317. 

Wedell, General von, at Vion- 
ville, 182. 

Weise, Colonel von, 184. 

Werder, General von, at Woerth, 
100, 104 ; bombards Strasburg, 
283 284. 

William I., King of Prussia, Re- 
gent in 1858, work and plans, 
2, 3 ; military reform, 3, 4, 5 ; 
council in Berlin, 9, 10; Ho- 
henzoUem candidature, Bene- 
detti at £ms, 42-45 1 leaves 

Ems, 46 ; mobilization, 52 ; 
restores Order of Iron Cross, 
70; characteristic journey to 
Mainz, 72 ; headquarters at 
Hemy, 158, 165; at Pont k 
Mousson, 189; joins Prince Fre- 
derick Charles, 190 ; his armies 
facing the Rhine, 193; on 
Flavigny heights, 197, 204; 
watches fight from Malmaison, 
214; sanctions advance on Fros- 
sard, 215, 216; 231; starts 
for Paris, 232, 234; 242; con- 
sulted, issues orders for grand 
right wheel, 246 ; Bar le Due, 
254; at Clermont, 255; Va- 
rennes, 259 ; Grand Pr^, 264 ; 
and staff on hill near Buzancy, 
269 ; 284 ; orders to Crown Prince 
and Saxon Crown Prince, 285 ; 
at Sedan, 320, 321, 322, 323, 
332 ; meets Napoleon, 335 ; 
greets troops, 336 ; hears of 
Paris Revolution, 338. 

Winterfeld, Captain von, 320. 

Wimpffen, General de, 1, 52; 
arrives at Sedan, 288, 296; 
takes command, 301, '302, 303, 
307, 311, 312, 315-317; conduct 
during negotiations and Capitu- 
lation, 319, 325-335. 

Wiseppe, stream, 262. 

Wissembourg, 84, 85 ; K'v'silf^j 86- 
90 ; 91 ; 167 ; road fron> Thauiiaii 
to, by Pirmasens, 67. 

Woerth, bridge broken, 91 ; 
French position, 96 ; battle, 
101-114; consequences, 115, 

Woippy, road out of MetztCf, IC^ 



Woyna, General von, at Spich- 
eren, 123, 126; at Colombey, 

Wurtemberg, Prince Augnstus 
of, at Gravelotte, 199, 203; 
sends in Guard, 219, 220; at 
Givonne, 306, 308. 

Wurtemberg joins Prussian mili- 
tary system, 14. 

Wiirtembergers, 254, 2 

Xonville, 163. 

Yron, river, 183, 186. 
Yoncq, 271, 272. 

Zastrow, General von, at Spich- 
eren, 121, 125; at Golombey, 
153, 166, 157, 191, 192. 

Zieten hussars, 261. 

Zingler, Captain von, 334. 

Zouaves escaped to Paris, 304. 

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